Please sed a comment to the state on proposed air pollution rules. Strong rules are needed to improve the air to protect public health and the economy.
Tell Alaska DEC to:
Include October in the open burn prohibition period for the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area, AAC 50.065(f). October is the beginning of the season of limited dispersion leading to air pollution episodes from local sources in Fairbanks and North Pole. Open burning even caused an Air Quality Advisory on October 24, 2011. Please prohibit open burning from October 1 to March 31 in the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area. Include notes and evidence how much air pollution has cost you and check the “fiscal impacts” box.
Current rules allow exceptions for controlled burns with DEC approval. The open burning prohibition period would apply only in PM2.5 non-attainment areas and Wood Smoke Control. Fairbanks is the state’s only PM2.5 nonattainment area. Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley is the state’s only wood smoke control area. Current state rules prohibit open burning during an Air Quality Advisory, but do not prevent open burning from CAUSING an advisory, such as on Oct 24, 2011. Numerous complaints were filed that Oct 24th, people were injured, and nonattainment was violated–from just one open burn operation in October.
Online Comment Form Field #1 [check the “fiscal impacts” box]:
For more info, see previous post:
Take Action: Comment for Clean Air on Draft State Rules
Comment as many times as you want. Comment deadline is Jan. 23, 2014.
It has been a mild early winter, but smoke levels are already spiking. Yesterday, Alaska DEC issued this winter’s first Air Quality Advisory:
The advisory was in local news: Air quality alert issued for North Pole area 10/21/2013 FDNM
Hard to say what levels of air pollution DEC used to issue the advisory. The “real-time” monitor for North Pole currently shows “Good” but reads 37 micrograms/cubic meter, so correctly should read “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” The site to track previous readings has no data for any monitor.
It will be the first of many advisories. Last winter, Alaska DEC issued Air Quality Advisories for 76 days.
In the history of Air Quality Advisories, Alaska DEC has issued only one Air Quality Advisory earlier in the winter. DEC first started issuing advisories in response to local air pollution Dec 1, 2010. The earliest winter Air Quality Advisory was issued Oct 2, 2012:
Earliest on record: Air Quality Advisory #2012-21 North Pole Oct 2 10AM to Oct 3, 2012 11AM
Winter air pollution advisories are typically caused by wood and coal burning for heating. However, the source of smoke that caused the third earliest winter air pollution advisory was not heating, but a large open burn operation to dispose of brush piles from land cleared along the Mitchell Expressway:
Air Quality Advisories trigger a restriction on thick smoke from a wood heating device, a safeguard in existing rules that has NEVER been enforced:
“State of Alaska Air Quality Control Plan provides the following guidance on wood smoke emission standards: A person may not operate a wood-fired heating device in a manner that causes (1) black smoke; or (2) visible emissions that exceed 50 percent opacity for more than 15 minutes in any one hour in an area for which an air quality advisory is in effect.”
What good is a state “control plan” that does NOTHING to control air pollution? The state’s approach is to consider air pollution as a pesky political issue. The state needs to be reminded that, at its core, air pollution is a danger to public health. The failure to recognize clean air is essential to ensure public health is the reason why local air pollution has become “worse than in Beijing.” Reuters 12/1/2012.