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Archive for the ‘2011 – Proposition 2’ Category

After the October 4 defeat of Proposition 2, the Healthy Air Protection Act, by borough voters, three routes forward have been suggested: the Assembly, state DEC, or EPA. There is a widespread acknowledgment that something must be done. The onus is on agencies and elected officials to address the local air quality problem. Only local control has the potential to avoid weeks of burn bans on all solid fuel burning devices.

Prop 2 offered voters healthy air without burn bans. Prop 2 cut over half the PM 2.5 emitted by solid fuel devices by eliminating the highly polluting wood-fired hydronics and coal appliances in the nonattainment area. Prop 2 also included 30% opacity standards and prohibited heavy smoke plumes that cross property lines. Prop 2 did not allow the Borough to apply burn bans against properly used woodstoves, Section 2 of Prop 2.

Burn bans–along with opacity limits, device regulations, and prohibited fuels lists–are used in other states with PM 2.5 problems. These tools plus burn bans have brought Juneau into PM 10 attainment, see Juneau Empire article 12/24/2008 and local code 36.40.080(b) & 03.30.055. Some states prohibit all wood-fired hydronic–Washington and Oregon for example–but communities within those states also enforce burn bans to avoid exceeding PM 2.5 limits.

There can be no argument: burn bans are effective in reducing PM 2.5 emissions. However burn bans apply even to proper use of indoor woodstoves, not just to highly polluting devices or misuse such as burning wet wood, creosote-treated telephone poles, and rubber tires.

Air Pollution Levels Rising – Fairbanks is tied for #4 on Time Magazine’s Ten Most Air-Polluted Cities in the US 9/29/2011. With no limit or no controls, it’s no surprise that our smoke pollution has gotten worse. Grandfathering existing highly polluting devices is not a viable way to reduce air pollution.

The Assembly Should Step-in – The FDNM editorial board offered its opinion that the Assembly should develop a practical method of distinguishing “clean” devices, Starting over: No time to waste in dealing with air 10/5/2011. At what cost and who will pay for it? The News-Miner recommended that the Assembly regulate air quality in an earlier editorial, Prop 2 alternative 10/2/2011. Proposition A, may not be changed for two years, so no local control measure can take effect until October 29, 2012.

The State Should ALSO Step-in – FDNM columnist Dermot Cole proposed that Alaska DEC should also get more engaged, As election smoke clears, next phase of clean air debate will begin 10/5/2011. However, the state lacks any ability to fine or ticket violators of air quality standards, see EPA’s eyes stay on Fairbanks after Proposition 2 failure 10/13/2011. The state is ill-equipped to mount any effort to reduce smoke pollution yet is not bound by Proposition A.

Without Effective State Action, EPA Will Apply Controls Dec 2014 – EPA would be required to apply the full range of control measures and economic sanctions as required by the Clean Air Act. A control plan must meet the air quality standards using “all reasonably available control measures as expeditiously as practicable (including such reductions in emissions from existing sources in the area as may be obtained through the adoption, at a minimum, of reasonably available control technology) and shall provide for attainment of the national primary ambient air quality standards.” See Title 42 Chapter 85 Subchapter I Part D subpart 1 § 7502(c)(1). Extensions are possible only after demonstrating “that all local control measures that are reasonably available and technically feasible for the area” have been implemented, see Federal Register final rule Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation, effective 4/25/2007, Federal Register, Volume 72, page 20601.

Federal controls will require new and modified point sources to meet 2-1 offsets for PM 2.5. With continued nonattainment, UAF’s proposed coal power plant [FDNM article: Aging UAF power plant creates campus concerns 10/9/2011] will have to achieve these costly 2-1 offsets. A myriad of control measures, federal sanctions, and other poorly understood economic impacts of continued nonattainment are becoming unavoidable as the federal deadline draws nearer.

Extremists thumbing their noses at reducing smoke pollution no matter what the cost are winning the race to the bottom. Our smoke pollution is among the worst in the nation and rising each year. Families, neighbors, and the economy are being damaged. Controls with stiff economic costs are unavoidable. Digging in our heels only prolongs the harm and removes our community from taking a seat at the table where those controls will be hammered out.

Residents have been harmed by excessive smoke, view previous post: 230 Reports of Life and Safety Impacts from PM 2.5. There’s no excuse for prolonging this harm. Efforts to reduce the harm to health must come from every level as rapidly as possible.

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Unofficial Results for Prop 2 Election Oct 4, 2011

The Borough Clerk’s office released updated unofficial election results. These updated results include absentee, early in-person, and question ballots.

Voter turnout on Proposition 2, the Healthy Air Protection Act, was 24%. 76%, 52,374 registered voters, did not vote on Prop 2.

From these unofficial results, Prop 2 was opposed by 59.3% and supported by 40.7%.

FNSB updated unofficial results 10/4/2011 election

FDNM: Fairbanks voters reject Proposition 2 air quality measure 10/5/2011

KUAC Morning Newscast, 10/5/2011 by Dan Bross, 00:00 – 02:04

KTVF Web Center 11: video clip 10/5/2011, video clip 10/4/2011, and print summary 10/5/2011

Sunstar: ASUAF hosts Prop. 2 debate 10/11/2011

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On Tuesday, October 4, 2011 voters rejected Proposition 2 on the Fairbanks North Star Borough ballot. Two candidates who supported Prop 2 were elected with strong majorities: John Davies for Assembly and John Eberhart for City Council.

Link: Proposition 2 unofficial results

Question, absentee, and early in-person ballots will be counted after the October 11 deadline for receiving absentee ballots.

According to these unofficial results, voters decided “yes” for Prop 2 in 11 of 42 precincts. Residents in those 11 precincts–and over 39% of all voters–want better air so much they voted to regulate themselves. Turnout on Prop 2 was less than 22% of registered voters. The outcome hinged on 1,550 voters who decided “no” rather than “yes”.

The right to breathe healthy air belongs to every Borough resident, including 25,000 children too young to register to vote. Our town cannot be condemned to be the “Bad-air-banks” it has become. The responsibility to address the imminent harm to health remains in the hands of public agencies, individuals, and the courts.

On the federal deadline for PM 2.5 nonattainment, the state may seek up to eight more years of extensions, until 2019. Postponing action and PM 2.5 attainment undermines the health of every resident and risks damaging the region’s economy.

Link: Looming Federal Deadline and Controls for Fairbanks

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Looking for the campaign website for Proposition 2 for healthy air and responsible woodstove use to be decided by Borough voters Tuesday, October 4?

On the web: Healthy Air Now for Prop 2 http://www.healthyairnow.org.

Also, find our group and event on Facebook: Healthy Air Now  for Prop 2.

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The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner summarizes the upcoming Proposition 2, the Healthy Air Protection Act, Fairbanks ballot measure will tighten home-heating rules, increase fines 7/24/2011.

Online commenters weighed in with vigor, including one resident resigned to giving up “a bunch of years” for living here:

….I have breathing issues, and congestive heart  failure, yet, I burn wood, and I know that people just do not live as long here  in the north country as they do in other places on earth. That is something we  give up to live here…a bunch of years. Accidents, substance abuse, the  stinging cold, all contribute to us living much fewer years here than our  relatives down south. I have resigned myself to that….
—Yukonjohn, July 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Myth Buster:  Responsible woodstove users aren’t the ones making the harmful smoke.

The News-Miner article attempted to summarize the Healthy Air Protection Act without using it’s name or using the word “opacity“. The article left out Prop 2’s explicit protection of proper use: “The borough shall not fine residents for proper use of solid fuel burning appliances.” The article also overlooked Prop 2’s borough-wide tax credits for air quality improvements.

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A new report on the harm to residents and the need for voter support of the Healthy Air Protection Act has been published by Clean Air Fairbanks

Link: Sickened by Smoke: the Harm of PM 2.5 Pollution and the Opportunity for Voters to Help July 2011. [1.3MB]

The report includes effects on health, summaries of public testimony from smoke victims,  measured concentrations from monitoring data including maps generated by the borough’s “sniffer” vehicle, winter source contributions, graphs of the growing number of public complaints, public records of life and safety impacts, agency enforcement to date, property rights vs the right not to be injured debate, economic impacts of continued nonattainment, and options including voter approval of the Healthy Air Protection Act.

The report is intended to inform voters in advance of the advance of the October 4, 2011 municipal election.

Visit Healthy Air Now for more on the ballot proposition and how to donate and volunteer.

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Media coverage of the announcement that the Borough Clerk’s office certified the Healthy Air Protection Act for the October 4, 2011 ballot:

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