Fairbanks Air Quality Regulation Now In Local Lawmakers’ Control

Voters in the Fairbanks North Star Borough have rejected a ballot initiative that would have continued a ban on local regulation of area clean air standards.

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A final tally of question and absentee ballots following last week’s municipal election shows the initiative has lost by 356 votes. That means the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly now has the authority to regulate home heating devices and make decisions about area clean air standards.

The local group Citizens for Clean Air campaigned heavily for Proposition 2 over the last few weeks. They painted old tires with the phrase “Tired of dirty air?” To encourage voters to vote ‘No’ on Proposition 2. Group co-sponsor and long-time air quality activist Patrice Lee says she’s pleased with the outcome.

“I’m happy I’m excited for the whole group,” Lee said. “I mean you can’t believe the fun we had rolling around tires in the dark and with no light and with headlamps on. “Tired of Dirty Air?” Well, we are, but we’re here and now we have a chance to try to make some progress at the local level and that’s a good things for the community.”

This is the third time borough voters have considered the proposition. It was first considered in 2010 and again in 2012, failing in both those years. Lee says already had a meeting planned for Tuesday evening to strategize on how to move forward regardless of the outcome.

“We have a whole community that we care about and while we’re passionate about our side of the issue, we’re also cognizant of what people are dealing with,” Lee said. “So, we want to have a strategy that moves forward that accomplishes the goal of cleaning up the air, but also makes some assurances that everyone can stay warm.”

The Proposition to keep the Borough from regulating home heating appliances, including wood stoves and boilers, is sponsored by North Pole Republican State Representative Tammie Wilson. Previous failures of the initiative gave the state authority to regulate air quality in and around North Pole and downtown Fairbanks where air quality has been identified as a problem.

2014 municipal election results will be certified next week.