[UPDATE: 2013-29 failed on 4-4 tie. Assembly member Van Lawrence recused himself because he lives in Nordale/Hamilton Acres neighborhood. See FDNM article: Borough Assembly rejects clean air incentive proposal 3/29/2013.]
The Assembly will take up two pilot programs related to air pollution Thursday, March 28.
Open for Public Comment (during Citizen’s Comments)
2013-35, Enhanced Solid Fuel Change Out Program (pilot program), $650,000
Scheduled for public hearing at Apr 11, 2013 Assembly meeting.
Priority ranks applications based on location and air quality benefit (line 97). [Watershed families seem to think their area would be prioritized, but it isn’t specified in the proposed ordinance.]
$1.15 million for air quality financial incentives and voluntary programs with zero fiscal impact to FNSB.
Sounds good, but will it work? Might. People need help desperately. If it helps one individual breathe better air, that’s one life made better.
These programs aren’t cheap. Willingness to spend $1.15 million more speaks to the concern that a realization is finally dawning: major economic stakes are riding on meeting federal PM 2.5 attainment as required by the Clean Air Act. Federal transportation funding and grants will be redirected to EPA to pay for the costs of meeting attainment if the state can’t show attainment has been met.
Where is the $1.15 million from? It appears that it may be from pass-thru grants from EPA to the state, previously allocated to the Borough for stove change-outs. A little transparency on funding would be appreciated.
Assuming the pilot programs work, will they be sustainable? Where would the cash come from for future incentives and infinite change-outs?
Limits on the Effectiveness of the Programs as Proposed
After dark, how can the Borough “visually” verify incentive program participants who continue to burn? Full Agenda Packet, p 103.
There is no restriction to prevent anyone, including change-out fund recipients, from installing yet another highly polluting device anywhere in the Borough. Directly across from Woodriver or Watershed or any school? No problem. Heck, a state-licensed daycare in North Pole has a noxious hydronic heater! It doesn’t take many wood or coal boilers or wet wood burners to erase hard-fought gains.
For the record, these programs will not pay for installations of wood or coal boilers. Rep Tammie Wilson’s mission has been more wood and coal boilers with the $1.3 million earmark for her pet nonprofit without accountability, the Alaska Resource Agency and her bill to provide loans statewide that can be used to purchase and install more wood and coal boilers, HB 35.
Delays Backed up by Snow Jobs
Their primary purpose is not improving public health, which they may, but to delay. To show EPA how hard we’re working here, thereby justifying an extension until 2019. Delaying nonattainment harms public health.
The Borough says it is preparing a plan for attainment including: “identifying control measures and components that demonstrate attainment by December 2014,” 2013-29, line 18-21. Yet, 2014 attainment is calculated from a three-year average of design values from 2011, 2012, and 2013. The design value for 2011 was 38 and for 2012 was 50. Work the math. To reach an average of 35 to demonstrate attainment, the 2013 design value has to be 17 or less. How likely is that? We love snow, not getting snowed!
Attention needs to be focused squarely on mandatory programs with effective, proven control measures and enforcement to protect public health. Focus not on delays, but on durable solutions. Be not distracted by delay tactics.
The state legislature adjourns April 14. Distracting delays have nearly whiled away yet another session with this blog being the only voice calling for statutory citation authority for air pollution violations. This void in the state’s paltry enforcement toolbox will delay PM 2.5 nonattainment indefinitely.
New voluntary programs and incentives are not air quality controls. The ability to take pollution violators to court is not sufficient for effective enforcement. Delays backed up by public snow jobs are literally sickening.
How much longer will public health wait to become the priority?