Governor Torn between Rights of Smoke Emitters & Public Health
February 7, 2011 by fbxkindling
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell shows his lack of healthy perspective in a FDNM article State faces enforcement questions for air pollution-prone Fairbanks
2/6/2011. Governor Parnell described Fairbanks’ air pollution problem as a “tug of war” between interests. He defended people’s general right to heat their homes with cheap fuel such as wood — or, in the case of last month’s DEC nuisance abatement order, coal. He also said the state has a responsibility to guard against air pollution. In his own words,
To put the burden on the state to solve that issue, (which) is really a federal mandate, has been rough.
<<cue sound of very small violin>>
Pick a side, Governor. Is it really so hard to choose? How do the State’s grounds for complaint stack up against actual damages to health and property values endured by residents impacted by smoke for years? Weighed against hundreds of smoke complaints filed with DEC and the Borough? Or against the economic aftermath of the 2013 BRAC process when air quality will count against our bases?
We have to clarify that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued not a “citation” but rather a Nuisance Abatement Order to the Steese coal smoker. [See previous post: DEC Issues First Nuisance Abatement Order
.] On air quality violations, DEC lacks authority to levy fines without a court order.
The FDNM also described that Alaska DEC will be hard pressed to step up enforcement on air pollution violations or avoid EPA taking on the plan for attainment and enforcement.
The job of convincing Washington, D.C., that pollution in Fairbanks and across the state is under control will ultimately fall to state government. Alaska’s environmental commissioner said Jan. 28 the “attainment” plan will need to clear the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If it fails, he said, the EPA will write the plan itself.
But the state’s air quality office said Friday it hasn’t requested more money next year to respond to pollution complaints in Fairbanks.
According to Commissioner of DEC Larry Hartig,
We’re not going in there — and our preference is for the community to deal with it but it’s not happening so the state will have to deal with it — but we’re not in there, heavy-handedly running around issuing fines.
True. DEC is not in there, heavy-handed. But maybe it’s time they were….