In her relentless effort to prevent the Borough from protecting residents’ life and safety from smoke pollution, Rep Tammie Wilson has introduced a bill to permanently block local government’s ability to stop or prevent air pollution. Rep Wilson’s HB 163 would make the state takeover by Prop 3 permanent. And this time she isn’t limiting this to the Fairbanks North Star Borough. If passed, HB 163 would apply statewide.
HB 163 strips the Borough’s ability to “prohibit the burning of solid fuel unless authorized by the governor in case of an emergency.” Under Fairbanks and North Pole levels of air pollution, considered emergencies elsewhere else in the US, no Borough intervention would be allowed. For the Borough to order the curtailment of an air pollution source, even with an offender burning tires, creosote-treated power poles, pig manure, or carpet (a few local examples), the Borough’s hands would be tied. To take any action, Borough officials would have to convince Juneau it was an emergency and receive approval from the governor. The governor has never recognized any level of air pollution in Fairbanks or North Pole as an “emergency”.
In addition, HB 163 strip local governments statewide of their ability to set emission limits on solid fuel burning devices. Only the state would have authority to set these limits. The state currently has no solid fuel emission standards. Until the state gets around to it, HB 163 ensures solid fuel devices would have no emission limits.
Sweet loophole! Install anything, no matter how polluting! Do you think the device manufacturers will help write those regulations? You betcha!
Local governments ordinarily insist on autonomy to adopt restrictions more stringent than the corresponding state or federal standard.
In Tammie’s World, local residents would be dependent on the state for the quality of the air they breathe. State law currently gives local governments citation authority to promptly respond to protect public health and enforce code. The state legislature has not given DEC citation authority — DEC has never even requested it — so how will the state enforce eventual solid fuel device emission limits? One-by-one into court. Slow, expensive, and hardly ever. DEC has done it a total of once.
For the state to usurp local authority and replace it with unknowns lacking any practical enforcement method, is a prime example of why life and safety should never be subject to politics.
Under HB 163, Juneau [36.40.080], Anchorage [15.35.050], and the City of Fairbanks [34-201 & 34-202] would lose their ability to set emission standards for installations of solid fuel burning devices.
Residents of Anchorage, you may have a dirty outdoor wood or coal boiler moving in right next door!
Local control was touted as a reason to vote for Prop A in 2010 and Prop 3 in 2012 and to vote against Prop 2 in 2011. For example, review this column by Dermot Cole, Mailer backing Proposition 3 features false ‘local control’ claim 9/30/2012 FDNM.
In Tammie’s World, to quote Dermot Cole, “up means down and yes means no.”
Rep. Wilson proposes bill to prevent local fuel burn bans 3/12/2013 FDNM
FNSB Proposition 3 (2012) Citizens Home Heating Initiative sponsored by Tammie Wilson