Open House on State Draft Air Quality Regulations
Wed, Oct. 2, 2013, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Fairbanks, AK – Wedgewood Resort Garden Room – 212 Wedgewood Dr [Link to Google map]
What is an Open House? It is your chance to ask questions about DEC’s proposed rules to help Fairbanks meet federal PM2.5 attainment.
Draft rules: Proposed Alaska Air Quality Control Regulations
Existing regulations: Alaska Air Quality Control Regulations (current 5/8/2013)
The state is writing new rules to include as control measures in the State Implementation Plan (SIP). A later public comment period will address the SIP that will then be submitted to EPA. The state missed the federal Clean Air Act deadline to submit an effective SIP by Dec. 14, 2012.
Will the state’s new rules be enough to meet attainment and protect health? Good question. Ask DEC!
Submit Comments Online: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments
Comment deadline: Jan. 23, 2014
Where can I get more information?
State regs webportal: http://dec.alaska.gov/air/anpms/comm/fbks_pm2-5_proposed-regs.htm
State SIP process: http://dec.alaska.gov/air/anpms/comm/fbks_pm2-5_sip.htm
Questions to Ask at the Open House *new* PRINT the PDF and BRING:
- Will the regulations be enough to meet attainment and protect health? Ask why health is not a top priority.
- Why wait until 2019 or later to meet PM2.5 attainment? Children’s lungs develop every day. Heart damage can happen in hours. The economic impact of prolonged nonattainment is already hurting property values, jobs, and the military. What can we do to speed action to meet health and attainment? [Emergency regulations, see #3 below.]
- Are we supposed to hold our breath? I don’t see one thing that will help us this winter. The greatest urgency is to protect health. Where is the urgency for my health, our children’s health? [Not one more winter of smoke! State agencies have authority to take emergency action now, this winter, under AS 44.62.250.]
- How are we going to get rid of existing hydronic heaters and coal burners in neighborhoods? The 125-day comment period allows more highly-polluting devices (wood burning hydronic heaters, barrel stoves, coal stoves and boilers, waste oil burners) to be grandfathered. Why aren’t polluting devices required to be removed when a property is sold?
- What about wet wood? It isn’t mentioned on the list of prohibited fuels. We know burning wet wood produces high PM2.5. Doesn’t burning wet wood have anything to do with the 60-80% of winter PM2.5 pollution that’s from burning wood?
- Why do curtailments target only wood burning? Doesn’t that give coal and waste oil burners a free ride? Why promote switching from wood to dirtier fuels like coal and waste oil? Coal is about 1/3 the price of fuel oil and cheaper than wood. [Jim Conner, FNSB presentation p 3.] Will these regs cause a rush to convert to coal? How will we breathe then? [Frying pan into the fire.]
- Shouldn’t we all do our part? What about power plants, the refinery, commercial and residential coal heating, incinerators, idling vehicles, and cold starts? [Wood is the primary winter source of PM2.5 but contributions from other sources cannot be ignored.]
- Explain how we will meet PM2.5 attainment with a trigger set at 56 µg/m3? The draft regulations give agencies the choice to call a “curtailment action” when the 24 hour average of PM2.5 has reached or is expected to reach 56 micrograms per cubic meter. 56 micrograms is “Unhealthy” according to EPA. Nonattainment starts at 35 µg/m3. Why not set the trigger at 25 or 30 to protect health and avoid violations? [A trigger set at 56 will NEVER meet attainment.]
- Why isn’t “curtailment action” defined in the proposal or in existing air quality regulations?
- What is the need for “flexibility” that is discussed? It sounds like DEC will watch air pollution levels rise to the trigger (56 µg/m3), then decide whether or not to call for a “curtailment action,” is that correct? [We need certainty that the state will take action.]
- Is health in Fairbanks and North Pole of little concern? According to a presentation from the Borough, hospitalizations for heart attacks, lung ailments and stroke increase when PM2.5 gets above 20 μg/m3. People living in heavily polluted areas can have 3 times the risk of heart attacks, lung ailments, and stroke as people living in clean areas.
- Why not restrict open burning in October? Open burning has smoked out Fairbanks in October. [DEC draft calls for Nov 1 to March 31 prohibition on open burning.]
- What about individual responsibility for poor choices? I see nothing here about enforcement to protect workplaces, my home, or my children’s school. Everyone wishes the cost of staying warm in Fairbanks and North Pole were cheap, but it’s not. Nothing justifies bad choices that hurt the health of neighbors. I lowered my heating bill by weatherizing my home and upgrading to a high efficiency oil boiler. I didn’t buy a house I couldn’t afford to heat. The state has programs to help: AHFC and ADHSS-public assistance.
- What about people outside the nonattainment area? [Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment map, December 2008.] What will prevent new outdoor wood and coal heaters in my neighborhood and keep air pollution out of my home? Why does the plan give zero protection to neighborhoods along Herning Road, Becker Ridge, Cripple Creek, Spinach Creek, areas off Freeman Road, Ester, and Moose Creek?
- How about transparency? I’d like to see DEC expand their web page with links to each comment submitted on these regulations and to DEC’s response to the concerns raised. The technology is available for DEC to easily post comments and responses and allow everyone access to the information.
- Can the next Open House meetings start at 4 and stay open until 8 pm? Many families work and need to get dinner for their children. It would help them participate if the time for the Open Houses were extended.
- What regulatory approaches have provided the quickest and most effective relief in other states?
- What research indicates coal and wood burners in our nonattainment area will voluntarily switch to natural gas?
- Why is there no regulation setting an indoor air pollution level for schools, public buildings, and other workplaces?