Dozens of residents brought concerns to the attention of the Air Pollution Control Commission 12/8/2010, leading to a 5-0 vote to send Mayor Luke Hopkin’s draft air quality ordinance… back to the Mayor for additional work. The volunteer commissioners did the impossible: they stopped a freight train!
Testifiers raised concerns about the need for local control of air pollution and weaknesses in the draft ordinance. In addition, residents stated that Prop A appears to violate the Alaska Constitution, Section 11. Borough Attorney Rene Broker noted state law requires the consent of the governing body to any ordinance establishing a local air quality control program. [Prop A “could resonably be interpreted as violating AS 29.35.055” per her 3/17/2010 memo.]
The commissioners agreed more efforts needed to be made to strengthen PM 2.5 control measures in the draft, including restoring sections deleted from the Air Quality Ordinance: prohibitions against excessive smoke opacity, dense smoke crossing property lines, and burning wet wood.
Testifiers included teachers, parents, pioneers, health-compromised residents, a retired nurse, and a representative from the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. A single individual testified that local smoke controls “violate his civil rights.” The hearing was broadcast live on KUAC. Additional concerns about the need for stronger protection for public health and property values from PM 2.5 pollution had been received by the APCC in writing.
Dermot Cole’s column in the FDNM puts opacity in context and asks the Mayor to heed the APCC’s advice to better protect public health, “Chimney smoke and public health” 12/15/2010.
Listen to a radio news broadcast aired 12/9/2010 by KUAC on the Dec. 8 Air Pollution Control Commission hearing.
The FDNM also covered the Dec. 8 APCC hearing, mainly referencing testifiers who cited harm to their own health from local smoke pollution. Read the article, “Sufferers testify about ills of wood smoke in Fairbanks” 12/8/2010 that, oddly, did not describe the hearing’s remarkable outcome.
An earlier FDNM news article “Fairbanks borough regulations fading on wood smoke ordinance” 11/20/2010 forecast a gloomy outlook for local air pollution control measures. The article discussed the “scaled back” Mayor’s draft Air Quality Ordinance. Mayor Hopkins sponsored the measure in response to the passage in October of Proposition A, which stated “the borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the use of home heating devices.” A spokesman for the group behind Proposition A said the mayor’s draft ordinance is acceptable. According to Rep. Wilson’s aide, Rick VanderKolk, state Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, will announce an alternative air quality plan next month “to assist the borough with PM 2.5 compliance.”
As background, Rep. Wilson is involved in the market demonstration of a prototype electric-powered retrofit appliance thought to make wood-burning devices burn cleaner. Two CS-100 catalysts manufactured by Connecticut-based ClearStak were installed on two (much complained about but Phase II) OWBs across the street from Woodriver Elementary on 12/7/2010. No emissions testing prior to or following the installation has been made available and may not have been collected. Instead, Rep. Wilson asserted to Clean Air Fairbanks that the Borough’s RAM trailer in the Woodriver parking lot and the number of citizen complaints will be used to gauge effectiveness of the CS-100s in reducing smoke production. The two $2,400 appliances are on loan to the owner of the OWBs and would be removed, possibly in several months.