Fairbanks North Star Borough met with 50 proposals to reduce wintertime air pollution

State and borough air-quality regulators are working to develop programs and staff to help clean up air pollution that sets in on cold winter days in Fairbanks. (Credit KUAC file photo)

A Fairbanks North Star Borough air quality group is mulling over fifty proposals to reduce wintertime pollution from wood, coal and oil burning.

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The proposals include banning the use of wood and coal heaters and replacing a coal fired power plant with a nuclear reactor. Less extreme ideas include building a kiln to dry firewood, and beginning local production of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Jana Pierce with stakeholder group facilitator Information insights, stresses the proposals are being considered from all sides.

“We have stakeholders that are wood burners, stakeholders that are wood cutters, stakeholders that are power plant operators, or they represent the power plant operators, the military, health industry,” Pierce said.

Parts of Fairbanks and North Pole are categorized by the EPA as a serious non-attainment area for fine particulate pollution, and Pierce says that comes with strict requirements.

“Anything that any other community in the United States, that has gone through this process… anything that they’ve put on the table, we have to adopt it,” Pierce said. “Unless we can come up with something better, or prove that it’s economically or technologically infeasible.”

If the area cannot come into compliance it faces federal sanctions including loss of transportation funding and costly power plant emissions retrofitting.