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Testify tonight in favor of publishing both sets of initiative statements.

The Borough Assembly will meet at 6 pm tonight and take public testimony at 7 pm on whether to authorize spending $4,500 to publish Pro and Con positions on the two citizen initiatives. The clerk received both Pro and Con statements on Prop 1 (tax cap) and Prop 2 (prohibits the Borough from taking action to reduce local air pollution). The Assembly should vote yes to authorize funding to publish both sets of Pro and Con statements. It is important that the public clearly know the issues before they vote. Publishing the statements should help provide the public with this important information.

Informing the public by publishing the statements is appropriate and consistent with current code 2.12.315 and does not violate 2.12.090. If the clerk approves each set of statements, the broadest public interest is best served as current code prohibits publishing one side without the other.

8. Statements advocating both approval and rejection must be accepted by the clerk in order to be published. If only one statement is accepted, it will not be published. 2.12.315

A supporter of Prop 2 submitted a statement in favor of the initiative. Sponsors of Prop 2 were given the opportunity to submit a statement of their own but did not. A choice made by one side must not be allowed to silence qualifying position statements received by the clerk and available for publication.

In addition, please speak in favor of the plan suggested by Assembly member John Davies to amend #8, above. (We have not seen this amendment.) The situation where one side can strategically silence the other by declining to submit a position statement is unethical and contrary to the public interest of helping inform voters. By informing voters on the initiatives, the Borough is only providing a municipal parallel to the same procedure allowed at the state level. Neither side should be allowed or encouraged to game the system and silence the other.

The clerk is prohibited from releasing copies of statements until they’ve gone to the printer. This is not about the content of Pro or Con statements; tonight’s vote is about the principle that FNSB should follow-thru on its responsibility to inform voters regarding initiatives.

In the news story (below), Rep. Tammie Wilson, sponsor of Prop 2, states, “It is not the place of the borough to take sides.” This misleading statement turns around the truth. Publishing a pair of properly submitted Pro and Con positions is NOT taking sides. To refuse to publish these statements silences both sides, and especially (and pointedly) aggrieves the group of residents opposed to Prop 2 who took the time to submit their position statement.

Backers of Fairbanks North Star Borough initiatives oppose borough-funded pamphlet FNSB August 27, 2014

 
Proposed Ordinance 2014-20-1F to appropriate $4,500 for publication of initiative statements.
 
FNSB Chapter 2.12.315 Informational insert for initiatives and referendums.
 
FNSB Chapter 2.12.090 Prohibition on use of public moneys to promote passage of ballot propositions.

2014-01-24 120 Citizens Comment on ADEC Proposed AQ Regulations-FinalA comment letter submitted yesterday to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation offers recommendations on the agency’s proposed air quality regulations. The comments were signed by 120 individuals, organizations, and businesses.

Read the letter: Comments on ADEC Proposed Air Quality Regulations – 120 signatures – final.pdf

From the comment letter:

“In conclusion, we find the proposed controls to be inadequate for the important task ahead. DEC has failed to consider control measures that are reasonably available, publicly supported, enforceable, sufficient, and viable. Our recommendations by contrast meet the requirements of law and the priorities of public health and the economic future of Fairbanks and North Pole. It is not reasonable to allow a small minority of chronic polluters to continue to undermine the health and economic future of an entire population who all need clean air to breathe.”

2013-12-19 opposing EPA deadline extension for PM2.5 plans - 145 signatures - finalA comment letter submitted today to the Environmental Protection Agency opposes the agency’s proposal to extend the deadline for states to submit PM 2.5 plans. The comments were signed by 145 organizations and individuals.

The comment letter states, “Under EPA’s wrong-headed and unreasonable proposal, states would be allowed a total of five years to submit plans that were required by law within 18 months.”

Read the letter: Comments opposing EPA deadline extension for PM2.5 plans – 145 signatures – final.pdf

UPDATE 12/17/2013: This post has been updated with two more studies, making a total of four pioneering studies on the association between autism and prenatal air pollution exposure.

A child could carry a gene for autism and show no signs of it unless that gene was triggered by exposure to polluted air, according to research led by scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Our research shows that children with both the risk genotype and exposure to high air pollutant levels were at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder compared to those without the risk genotype and lower air pollution exposure. –Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of research in preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and principal investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, ScienceDaily.com article 12/2/2013

Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, and Daniel B. Campbell, PhD

The researchers found air pollution may compromise the healthy functioning of a child’s brain and immune system leading to autism in those who inherited a particular gene.

“This is the first demonstration of a specific interaction between a well-established genetic risk factor and an environmental factor that independently contribute to autism risk. The MET gene variant has been associated with autism in multiple studies, controls expression of MET protein in both the brain and the immune system, and predicts altered brain structure and function,” according to Daniel B. Campbell, PhD, Assistant Professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the study’s senior author. Keck School of Medicine article 12/2/2013

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 50 children in the United States has an ASD. Forbes 3/20/2013 and Center for Disease Control autism fact sheet 3/20/2013

Previously, health studies have shown significant associations between exposure to fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) and premature death from heart and lung disease. PM 2.5 pollution can aggravate heart and lung diseases and has been linked to effects including cardiovascular symptoms; cardiac arrhythmias; heart attacks; strokes; blood clots; diabetes; chemical sensitivity; asthma attacks; respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia; COPD; chronic bronchitis; low birth weight; and reduced IQ.

The study, “Autism spectrum disorder: Interaction of air pollution with the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene,” was published in the January 2014 edition of Epidemiology, available here.

An earlier study, perhaps the first national study to associate autism with air pollution, was published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal Environmental Health Perspectives 8/2013, available here. This NIEHS study was covered by Autism Speaks.

Two related studies:

Becerra T, Wilhelm M, Olsen J, Cockburn M, Ritz B. Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California. Environ Health Perspect 121:380–386 (3/2013). http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205827 [Online 12/18/2012.]

Volk H, Lurmann F, Penfold B, Hertz-Picciotto I, McConnell R. Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism. JAMA Psychiatry 2013;70(1):71-77. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.266. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1393589 [Online 12/2012.]

Thanks to North Pole Clean Air for publicizing the connection between autism and air pollution and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment for sharing the two related studies.

Air Plan Deadline Extension Draws Critics (audio) Alaska Public Radio News, 12/4/2013

We ask: Why is EPA helping the State of Alaska delay clean air for Fairbanks?

Highlights:

There’s pushback on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed extension of time for states to develop plans to reduce fine particulate pollution. Clean air advocates are opposed to potential delay in improving air quality in communities suffering with air pollution like Fairbanks.

A January ruling in a suit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council requires the EPA enforce smoke regulations under more a stringent part of the Clean Air Act. Last month, the agency proposed giving states more time, until Dec. 14, 2014, to get attainment plans in.

Earthjustice attorney Colin O’Brien: ‘They’ve looked at a court decision–which said EPA you’re doing this wrong, the deadline is supposed to be earlier not later–and EPA has responded by giving an extension of time.’

The State of Alaska failed to meet the original deadline 2012 and is working to get a plan for cleaning up Fairbanks’ air in by next summer.

Plans won’t be going into place until just prior to EPA pollution reduction threshholds which take effect in 2015.

O’Brien: ‘It’s hard to imagine that the attainment deadline will actually be met.’ O’Brien adds there’s a lot at risk: ‘The health and welfare in those communities like Fairbanks where the air pollution levels are dangerous.’

Related post: EPA Proposes More Delays for Fairbanks, Possibly til 2024

New air pollution rules proposed by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are too weak to protect your health or the economy.

58 comments have been submitted on the proposed air pollution regulations for the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area. WOW! 30 in the past week! Compare w/ 56 comments submitted by residents from Liberty-Clairton, Pennsylvania on their PM2.5 attainment plan. Way to roll! More comments than a community of 1.2 million! Keep it up!

TAKE BACK OUR AIR:

Cut and paste these snazzy, new comments. Use your own words as much as possible…

First,

Set the PM2.5 trigger for Air Alerts to 35 micrograms per cubic meter or lower. The state has proposed to set the trigger at 56 micrograms per cubic meter. Nonattainment violations start at 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The trigger needs to be no higher than 35 to help prevent violations. Alaska must not be the only state in the nation with a trigger higher than 35. Juneau, AK uses 30, Washington State uses 25 and 35, Sacramento, CA uses 31 and 35, and Utah nonattainment areas use 25.

Hospitalization for heart attacks, lung ailments, and strokes increase at levels above 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A lower number better protects health. FNSB 11/29/2012, p 11. Scientific evidence and medical harm support a trigger of 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A level of 56 is cruel because it gives no protection to sensitive groups such as people with heart or lung problems, diabetics, elders, children, and developing fetuses.

Add section for public notification of Air Alerts. Establish “check before you burn” website, email notifications, toll-free phone number, and other media outlets. Air pollution can continue to increase after an announcement of unsafe levels of air pollution depending on how well the order is communicated and public response.

[Personalize it -- Say how much air pollution has cost YOU financially. Were you hospitalized? Did you miss work? Were you prescribed medicines? Did you buy an air filtration system? Say so; specify your financial cost.]

PASTE your comment in Form Field #5: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments
IMPORTANT: CHECK
the “fiscal impacts” box.
ATTACH supporting documents to show how much air pollution has cost you financially.

Second,

The proposed regulations need to include an exemption for essential residential heating during a temporary power outage and where a solid fuel-fired heating device is the sole source of heat. Exempt devices must be registered by a cut-off date and upgraded when the property is sold. A exemption for essential residential heating is standard in other states including California, Washington, Nevada, and Utah.

A new definition should be included for “essential heating” to provide for residential heating needs that are absolutely necessary.

PASTE your comment in Form Field #8: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments IMPORTANT: CHECK the “fiscal impacts” box.
ATTACH supporting documents to show how much air pollution has cost you financially.

CLICK “Submit Comments” at bottom of form to submit both comments.

The state will email a copy of your comments to you. Please forward a copy to: cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com

FORWARD this message to a friend because we need help to take back our air.

Thank you.

More:

If you prefer to submit all your comments at one time, download, edit, and send Word DOC on this post: Take Action: Comment for Clean Air on Draft State Rules. Post also has links to the proposed and current regulations.

Will Alaska DEC listen? If you specify what air pollution has cost you and you check the “fiscal impact” box, DEC must listen. To get their ear, specify dollar amounts (estimates are better than no numbers) and attach supporting documentation. State law requires agencies to “pay special attention to the cost to private persons.” AS 44.62.210.

Fairbanks Bowl, PM2.5 Pollution Accumulates under Inversion, 11/20/2013 3:43 pm

Fairbanks Bowl, PM2.5 Pollution Accumulates under Inversion, 11/20/2013 3:43 pm

Fairbanks and North Pole air pollution was worst in the nation again yesterday.

If you’re looking for Beijing-grade air pollution, save the airfare. Yesterday, you could find air nearly as dirty in North Pole, Alaska.

Nov. 20, 2013, 24-hour average PM2.5 and hourly range:

North Pole, Alaska, US - UNHEALTHY, 71 micrograms/cubic meter, range 32 to 116
>> Source: FNSB North Pole Fire Station on Alaska DEC Air Monitoring Network
How to use Alaska DEC Air Monitoring Network Real-time Monitoring

Beijing, ChinaUNHEALTHY, 77.6 micrograms/cubic meter, range 19 – 144
>> Source: Beijing Air Twitter Feed

Other monitors on Nov. 20, 2013:

  • Watershed School, Fairbanks, US – UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, 50 micrograms/cubic meter, range 24 to 108
  • FNSB Administrative Building, Fairbanks, US – MODERATE, 35 micrograms/cubic meter, range 17 – 49
  • Tulare, San Joaquin Valley, California, US – MODERATE, 28 micrograms/cubic meter, range 8 to 45 (Highest in US other than the three monitoring sites in Fairbanks North Star Borough.)

Making sense of the numbers: EPA Air Quality Index Chart, 2013

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