The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will take up the weakest-ever version of the AQ ordinance and have a first reading on Jan. 13, 2011. See their version (same as approved by the APCC): 2011-03, draft version 1/13/2011. It has been referred to the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 20, 2011 and will be considered Jan. 27, 2011 for public hearing.
For background, review the current local Air Quality Ordinance 2010-28 (approved 6/10/2010), Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act, and see earlier post: Mayor’s Punt on Third Down Approved by Air Commission.
On Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, the FNSB Assembly will listen to Citizen’s Comments on items not scheduled for public hearing. The meeting starts at 6 pm, and Citizen’s Comments are at the beginning of the Agenda. This is your chance to testify (3 minute limit) on the latest AQ draft. Location of the meeting: Borough Chambers, 809 Pioneer Road, Fairbanks.
Whether or not you plan to attend, please email comments to all nine Assembly members at email@example.com. Please CC your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you may submit your testimony or written comments as a letter to the editor: http://www.newsminer.com/pages/submit_letters_to_editor.
What to Say to the Assembly:
Tell them while you appreciate everyone’s efforts, especially the 7 volunteer commissioners, this process has simply gone off the rails.
Ask the Assembly to prohibit “improper or injurious misuse” of heating appliances. Is anyone going to say they shouldn’t? Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act did not say, “The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for IMPROPER OR INJURIOUS MISUSE of home heating devices,” only their “use,” which must be construed as “proper use.”
Improper or injurious misuse, as prohibited by a new proposed amendment is defined as: use of a heating appliance in such a way that its use constitutes misuse. This definition includes, but is not limited to:
- using injurious or prohibited materials as fuel;
- use in a manner contrary to manufacturer’s recommendations; or
- use in a manner that is injurious to public health or welfare.
As with most everything, there’s a right and a wrong way to use a woodstove or boiler. Using a wood or coal-heating appliance in a manner that injures others is not proper use; it is “improper or injurious misuse.” Misusing a heating appliance so that it causes physical or economic injury to others is akin to assault and robbery, even home invasion. No law can take away residents’ inherent constitutional rights to not be harmed by another’s callous disregard or unintentional misuse of a wood or coal-heating appliance. Not even a voter-approved citizen’s initiative. A concerned business leader reminded Clean Air Fairbanks recently that if voters passed an initiative making bank robbery legal that initiative could not stand.
Support an additional amendment:
Rather than giving a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free pass to known hoodlums on the too-nasty-to-burn list, Subsection 8.21.020 E. 1. Prohibited Fuels in the Non-Attainment Area in our current Air Quality Ordinance 2010-28 should be partially amended to add a new item: “16. Any other materials that generate noxious or poisonous fumes when combusted.” Oppose plans to remove items from the list of prohibited fuels.
That is all you need to say. Here’s background on the amendments:
Like it or not, Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act took effect on the day the election was certified, Oct. 12, 2010. As a voter initiative, Prop A is added as a new Borough code and cannot repeal existing ordinance. A referendum can repeal; an initiative cannot repeal. All the justifications that Prop A requires the gutting of our current Air Quality Ordinance 2010-28, leaving only an ineffective voluntary compliance program, must stop, now. If someone wants to gut our current AQ ordinance, they have a right to say so. Blaming it on Prop A is unsupported; you can be certain Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act says no such thing.
Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act was approved by the voters as written and therefore became local code 3 months ago. For Prop A to take effect, Assembly approval is not necessary (or desirable). Like it or not, the voters decided–this is in our code now: “The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the use of home heating devices.”
However, Prop A does not address our serious smoke pollution problem. That is the job of current ordinance which must be upheld, not gutted. Prop A also does not protect or refer to “improper or injurious use” of heating appliances. Residents need the Assembly to approve an amendment to borough code, a new subsection, to prohibit “improper or injurious misuse” of heating appliances in our borough.
Every Assembly member took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the State of Alaska. Article 1.1 is worth reviewing for its eloquent reminder that our inherent rights are guaranteed and have corresponding obligations.
Do these amendments amend Prop A? No. Prop A did not say, “The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the IMPROPER OR INJURIOUS MISUSE of home heating devices.” Prop A stays intact in code as approved by the voters.
Do these amendments prevent the State from helping control our smoke problem? No. The State’s own laws on air pollution, while poorly enforced, are unaffected by the “improper or injurious use” amendment. Like it or not, the State legislature will consider new AQ legislation this spring to try to get a handle on our nonattainment problem. Our smoke is their problem too.