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Archive for the ‘Take Action for Clean Air’ Category

What you don’t know about Fairbanks’ air can hurt you.

When calling air alerts, the Borough considers only hourly PM2.5 measured at two monitors: the NCore at the FNSB Administration Building in downtown Fairbanks and the North Pole Fire Station on Hurst Road. Fairbanks monitors showing higher PM2.5 than downtown Fairbanks are ignored, then removed. In fact, every other PM2.5 monitor is ignored, regardless how high it reads.

When reporting air pollution to the public, FNSB and ADEC must stop cherry-picking monitor data to ignore neighborhoods with high PM2.5.

How can you speak up? Write an email:

  • Air agencies must stop ignoring Fairbanks monitors that have higher readings than the NCore monitor in downtown Fairbanks.
  • The Borough must stop removing monitors from Fairbanks and North Pole neighborhoods that show high PM2.5.
  • Tell them how air pollution has harmed you.

Send your email to:
FNSB Assembly assembly@co.fairbanks.ak.us
Mayor Karl Kassel mayor@fnsb.us
Kathleen Hook – APCC Chair khook@doyonutilities.com
Governor Bill Walker bill.walker@alaska.gov
Commissioner Larry Hartig – DEC larry.hartig@alaska.gov
Commissioner Valerie Davidson – DHSS davidson@alaska.gov
Commissioner Gary Folger – DPS gary.folger@alaska.gov
Administrator Dennis McLerran r10administrator-mclerran@epa.gov
Please send a copy to cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com

How does of ignoring monitors harm health in Fairbanks?

The NP Fire Station PM2.5 monitor frequently records levels categorized by EPA as “Unhealthy,” triggering numerous Stage 2 and Stage 3 burning requirements. From Jan 1 to Feb 11, 2016 for North Pole, agencies declared seven Stage 2 and eleven Stage 3 air alerts. When people know the air is polluted, they have a chance to take action.

During the same period for Fairbanks, agencies declared five Stage 2 and no Stage 3 air alerts. The NCore monitor at the Borough Admin Building in downtown Fairbanks uncommonly records elevated PM2.5 (mainly when North Pole Coffee Roasting Co discharges its putrid plume). Alerts are based on 24-hour averages, hiding higher hourly emission spikes.

What monitors should have been considered?

The Chena Pump monitor has recorded PM2.5 categorized as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” Monitors at Hamilton Acres and the Watershed School recorded Unhealthy but were removed by the Borough. The Dixon Road, North Pole monitor recorded PM2.5 higher than the NP Fire Station but was removed by the Borough.

How is my health harmed when monitors showing higher PM2.5 are ignored? 

When people don’t know their air is polluted, they have no chance to take change their behavior. When no Air Alert has been declared, residents don’t know schools and playgrounds may be unsafe or that breathing is life endangering. Athletic training and competitions are held not knowing high PM2.5 readings were ignored. Residents on the ridges or from out of town don’t know when the air is unsafe or when they need to stay away from Fairbanks. Solid fuel users keep burning because they don’t know health-based PM2.5 limits were exceeded.

Which agency ignores monitors?

Both. Borough Air Quality Forecast and ADEC Air Quality Advisories/ Episodes websites reflect data from only two monitors in the borough.

What are Stage 2 and Stage 3 heating device restrictions?

Stage 2: “Burning is permitted in all EPA-certified solid fuel burning appliances, and EPA Phase II qualified hydronic heaters with an annual average emission rating of 2.5 grams or less, masonry heaters, pellet fuel burning appliances, cook stoves, and fireplaces. No fuel source may be added to the combustions [sic] chamber or firebox of any solid fuel burning appliance or waste oil burning appliance not listed above.” Detailed description.

Stage 3: “No fuel source may be added to the combustions [sic] chamber or firebox of any solid fuel burning appliances, masonry heaters, pellet fuel burning appliances, cook stoves, fireplaces, or waste oil burning appliances.” Detailed description.

Are the agencies following the law?

No. A Stage 2 air alert is “implemented when concentrations exceed or are forecasted to exceed 35 µg/m3” and a Stage 3 air alert is “implemented when concentrations exceed or are forecasted to exceed 55 µg/m3” (FNSB Code 8.21.040 E).

When monitors show 24-hr concentrations over 30 µg/m3, 20% opacity limits, “shall be initiated at a 24-hour average concentration of 30 μg/m3 based on a 24-hr rolling average of the 1-hr BAM measurements” (SIP III.D.5.11-6). “BAM” monitors are the Borough’s real-time, hourly monitors. 20% opacity limits have never been publicized when 24-hr concentrations exceeded 30 µg/m3. (FNSB NOASH waivers do not apply to state opacity limits.)

Further, ADEC and FNSB “will declare” a PM-2.5 air quality advisory “if, in its judgment,” conditions exist that “might threaten public health” 18 AAC 50.246(b). PM2.5 threatens heath when 24-hr levels exceed 35.5 µg/m3, the Air Alert level set in the Alaska State Implementation Plan (SIP III.D.5.11-4).

It is not “judgment,” but bias, to call air alerts for North Pole while ignoring monitors with high PM2.5 in Fairbanks.

Which agency is at fault?

Both. The state delegated responsibility on area sources to the Borough (ADEC-FNSB MOU for Air Pollution Control 2010). Yet, both must follow the laws and regulations. The Clean Air Act “states that the SIP must provide necessary assurances that, where the State has relied on a local government for the implementation of any plan provision, the State has responsibility for ensuring adequate implementation of such plan provisions” (SIP III.D.5.12-1).

 

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Prop 2 Sample Ballot 2014, page 2

Prop 2 Sample Ballot 2014, page 2

Oct. 7, 2014 is the FNSB municipal election. Registered voters will decide on Proposition 2 that prohibits the Borough from any regulation of heating appliances or fuels. Please vote “NO” to allow local government to take action to improve your air and health.

Proposition 2 “prohibits the borough from regulating in any way heating appliances or combustible fuels.” Assembly Factual Resolution, approved 8/14/2014

2014 Sample Ballot. The image links to the sample ballot posted by the Borough.

Citizens for Clean Air – No on Prop 2 submitted the following position statement opposing Prop 2:

Vote “NO” on Proposition 2

Proposition 2 prevents local government from taking action on the most significant issue facing our health and economy: Fairbank’s air pollution.

Vote “NO” to allow local government to take action to stop reckless pollution.

Our opponents want you to vote “yes” to tie the hands of local government. They want officials to do nothing to stop those who have injured neighbors and schoolchildren. They want government to sit on its hands while a few continue to burn irresponsibly. Our opponents are fiddling while Fairbanks burns.

Vote “NO” to take back the Borough’s ability to stop air pollution. Local air pollution has sickened many, forced families to move, lowered property values, reduced business investment, and, in all likelihood, contributed to the death of someone you know. People need to be able to heat their homes responsibly; however, tools are needed to stop thoughtless polluters promptly. This can’t be done from Juneau, or DC.

Claim: “We’ve always had ice fog in Fairbanks a few days each winter, it’s no big deal.”
Fact: It’s a big deal. It’s as serious as a heart attack. Exposure to fine particle or PM2.5 air pollution (the kind we have in Fairbanks and North Pole) “over a few hours to weeks can trigger (both) cardiovascular disease–related mortality, and nonfatal events.” Longer-term exposure can “reduce (someone’s) life expectancy…by several months to a few years.” (American Heart Association)

Claim: “Even if there’s a problem, rules and regulations won’t help.”
Fact: Some people just don’t care. Look at drunk drivers. We need a way to protect our homes and families. James Connor, former Borough air quality manager, stated, “Trash. Tires…. Railroad ties. Feces. Animal carcasses. You would not believe what they burn.”

Claim: ”If regulations are allowed, “they” will come to take your stove away.”
Fact: Essential burners, families who have only wood or coal for heating, are protected by Federal and State statutes. There are about 2,000 essential burners in the borough, and 13,000 non-essential wood burners. When air quality gets bad, people with oil burners could be asked to switch back.

Claim: “There is a problem but natural gas is the only cure.”
Fact: For most, natural gas is years away and the cost to hook up could fatally hamper this solution.

Claim: “The State and Federal Government can deal with it.”
Fact: Yes, Juneau, Missoula and Salt Lake City were all forced by the EPA to clean up their dirty, dangerous air. We can do it better, and quicker, without the heavy hand of the law.

Both sides of this issue agree that rising fuel costs make wood heat attractive. However, our air pollution will max out if inefficient stoves remain, or if people burn green wood, garbage, or plastics.

It’s a disgrace that Fairbanks is one of the top 10 most polluted cities in the US (#7 for Short-Term Particle Pollution–American Lung Association). This community values our kids, our elders, and our future! Vote “no” on Prop 2.

— Jeffrey Merkel, Mary Nordale, and Patrice Lee of Citizens for Clean Air-No on Prop 2
Submitted to the Borough Clerk Aug. 22, 2014

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New air pollution rules proposed by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are too weak to protect your health or the economy.

58 comments have been submitted on the proposed air pollution regulations for the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area. WOW! 30 in the past week! Compare w/ 56 comments submitted by residents from Liberty-Clairton, Pennsylvania on their PM2.5 attainment plan. Way to roll! More comments than a community of 1.2 million! Keep it up!

TAKE BACK OUR AIR:

Cut and paste these snazzy, new comments. Use your own words as much as possible…

First,

Set the PM2.5 trigger for Air Alerts to 35 micrograms per cubic meter or lower. The state has proposed to set the trigger at 56 micrograms per cubic meter. Nonattainment violations start at 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The trigger needs to be no higher than 35 to help prevent violations. Alaska must not be the only state in the nation with a trigger higher than 35. Juneau, AK uses 30, Washington State uses 25 and 35, Sacramento, CA uses 31 and 35, and Utah nonattainment areas use 25.

Hospitalization for heart attacks, lung ailments, and strokes increase at levels above 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A lower number better protects health. FNSB 11/29/2012, p 11. Scientific evidence and medical harm support a trigger of 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A level of 56 is cruel because it gives no protection to sensitive groups such as people with heart or lung problems, diabetics, elders, children, and developing fetuses.

Add section for public notification of Air Alerts. Establish “check before you burn” website, email notifications, toll-free phone number, and other media outlets. Air pollution can continue to increase after an announcement of unsafe levels of air pollution depending on how well the order is communicated and public response.

[Personalize it — Say how much air pollution has cost YOU financially. Were you hospitalized? Did you miss work? Were you prescribed medicines? Did you buy an air filtration system? Say so; specify your financial cost.]

PASTE your comment in Form Field #5: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments
IMPORTANT: CHECK
the “fiscal impacts” box.
ATTACH supporting documents to show how much air pollution has cost you financially.

Second,

The proposed regulations need to include an exemption for essential residential heating during a temporary power outage and where a solid fuel-fired heating device is the sole source of heat. Exempt devices must be registered by a cut-off date and upgraded when the property is sold. A exemption for essential residential heating is standard in other states including California, Washington, Nevada, and Utah.

A new definition should be included for “essential heating” to provide for residential heating needs that are absolutely necessary.

PASTE your comment in Form Field #8: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments IMPORTANT: CHECK the “fiscal impacts” box.
ATTACH supporting documents to show how much air pollution has cost you financially.

CLICK “Submit Comments” at bottom of form to submit both comments.

The state will email a copy of your comments to you. Please forward a copy to: cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com

FORWARD this message to a friend because we need help to take back our air.

Thank you.

More:

If you prefer to submit all your comments at one time, download, edit, and send Word DOC on this post: Take Action: Comment for Clean Air on Draft State Rules. Post also has links to the proposed and current regulations.

Will Alaska DEC listen? If you specify what air pollution has cost you and you check the “fiscal impact” box, DEC must listen. To get their ear, specify dollar amounts (estimates are better than no numbers) and attach supporting documentation. State law requires agencies to “pay special attention to the cost to private persons.” AS 44.62.210.

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Update: DEC added evening hours for a Fairbanks hearing, 5 to 7 pm on Jan 7, 2014. [Way to go commenters!]

New air pollution rules proposed by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are too weak to protect your health or the economy.

34 comments have been submitted on proposed air pollution regulations for the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area. Compare with 56 comments submitted by residents of Liberty-Clairton, Pennsylvania on their state plan for PM2.5 attainment. Come ON! We can do better than a community of 1.2 million!

TAKE BACK OUR AIR:
Cut and paste comments on two sections…

First,

The State of Alaska has no limits to prohibit what may be burned in a stove or boiler. People burn anything and everything, with poisonous effects: tires, trash, manure, plastic, animal carcasses, creosote treated wood… it has been burned in Fairbanks and North Pole, Alaska. It is time to establish rules on prohibited fuels. Please amend 18 AAC 50.076 as proposed:

  1. Prohibit burning wood over 20 percent moisture content. Burning wet wood makes excessive smoke.
  2. Prohibit burning any material not intended by a manufacturer for use as a fuel. Burning the wrong fuel in a heating device voids the warranty and can cause explosions and chimney fires, serious safety and liability concerns.
  3. Limits on prohibited fuels are needed statewide to protect health, not just in the seriously polluted Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area.
  4. Prohibit burning any material that when combusted generates noxious, poisonous, or injurious fumes.

[Personalize it — Say how much air pollution has cost YOU financially. What has been burned that has harmed you? Were you hospitalized, did you miss work, were you prescribed medicines? Say so; include the cost.]

PASTE your comment in Form Field #1: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments
IMPORTANT: CHECK the “fiscal impacts” box.
ATTACH supporting documents on how much air pollution has cost you financially. 

Second,
The public hearings on the proposed air pollution rules are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. These times disadvantage individuals who work during the day.

  • Please extend the hearings to include evening hours of 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

[Personalize it — Say how much it will cost you to take off work to attend.]

PASTE your comment in Form Field #9: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments
IMPORTANT: CHECK the “fiscal impacts” box.

CLICK “Submit Comments” at bottom of form to submit both comments.
The state will email a copy of your comments to you. Please forward a copy to: cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com
FORWARD this message to a friend because we need help to take back our air.

BACKGROUND:

Anyone can comment. Submit as many comments as you want until Jan 23. 2014 deadline.

We’ll be in touch with more comments for you to send to Alaska DEC.

If you prefer to submit all your comments at one time, download, edit, and send Word DOC on this post: Take Action: Comment for Clean Air on Draft State Rules The post also has links to the proposed and current regulations.

CAF Report: Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements

Alaska Coal: “inferior” and may “compromise any insurance claim involving damages”

Will Alaska DEC listen?
If you specify what air pollution has cost you and you check the “fiscal impact” box, DEC must listen. To get their ear, specify dollar amounts (estimates are better than no numbers) and attach supporting documentation. State law requires agencies to “pay special attention to the cost to private persons.” AS 44.62.210.

In memoriam: Maddie Guttenberg, suffered from the smoke, one of us taken too soon.

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Clean Air Fairbanks today released a new report:

CAF - Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements

Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements: Safety Risks from Burning High-moisture Alaska Coal

>>Link to PDF here

Summary: Coal stoves are typically designed for coal types not available in Alaska. The moisture content of Alaska coal is high relative to other types of coal. High-moisture coal burns with higher emissions and carries a far higher risk of explosions, chimney fires, and structure fires.

“Improper use and the failure to follow manufacturer guidelines can result in a disaster for the occupants of the home,” states a recent warning from the Division of Fire and Life Safety of the Alaska Department of Public Safety. “Only use a grade of coal that is recommended by the manufacturer of your heating equipment and do not put coal in a heating device that is not recommended to burn coal. Make sure that your wood or coal burning stove has been tested and approved by a third party testing laboratory such as UL.”

UL certification of heating devices is limited to fuels approved by the manufacturer. To load a stove with improper fuel‒even just one time‒voids the warranty and UL certification. UL certification is in the fine print of insurance policies, mortgage agreements, leases, and other contracts pertaining to property and liabilities.

However, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed to approve “coal” and “coal pellets” for coal heaters in the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area.

The report offers recommendations to address the statewide safety risks from burning high-moisture Alaska coal in heating devices.

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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]:
https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments

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:

Oct 21, 2013 Air Quality Advisory #2013-28 North Pole Oct 21 10:30AM to Oct 22, 2013 4PM

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:

Oct 24, 2011: Air Quality Advisory #2011-19 Fairbanks Oct 24 1PM to Oct 25, 2011 5PM

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.

Read Full Post »

2013-3 EPA Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke

Don’t wait! Send your comments for clean air NOW!

*NEW* Download post as DOC file: Take Action: Comment for Clean Air on Draft State Rules.DOC
Edit and submit by email or attach to online form #8 General Comments.

Online Comment Form:
https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/FormalComments

Comments also accepted by mail, email, and fax.
Scott Sloane, Division of Air Quality, 410 Willoughby Ave #303, Juneau, AK 99801
Scott Sloane <scott.sloane@alaska.gov>
        Please CC <cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com>
(907)465-5129 fax

Comment deadline: Jan. 23, 2014.

Draft (to strengthen): Proposed Air Quality Control Regulation
Existing regulations: Alaska Air Quality Control Regulations
State webportal: http://dec.alaska.gov/air/anpms/comm/fbks_pm2-5_proposed-regs.htm

Important: Has air pollution cost you money? Comment on how you’ve been harmed financially and check the “fiscal impacts” boxes. Also, submit evidence such as receipts, letters from your doctor, number of days you missed work each year, list your expenses caused by air pollution including medical costs, cost of air filtration systems, masks, missed workdays, etc. State law requires agencies to “pay special attention to the cost to private persons of the proposed regulatory action.” AS 44.62.210.

Section Numbers Correspond to Online Form Fields:

1. 18 AAC 50.065(f) prohibits open burning in PM2.5 nonattainment areas between Nov 1 and March 31. (Currently, Fairbanks is the only such area in Alaska.)

Amend: Open burn prohibition should start October 1, not wait until Nov 1. Open burning in October 2011 caused a PM2.5 nonattainment violation.

2. 18 AAC 50.075(b) removes the prohibition against operating a wood-fired heating device during an air pollution episode and makes the declaration of any prohibition a discretionary act of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Oppose: Do not weaken weaken air quality protection statewide by making state response to high levels of air pollution optional. The proposed change weakens current regulations by allowing DEC to ignore the numbers, regardless of how high air pollution levels rise. DEC says the proposed rule allows “flexibility” to respond area by area, but, in fact, DEC would get flexibility to not respond at all. The proposal ignores the fact that Fairbanks is in an airshed. When there is a strong inversion, all sources, even if not located in a low area, contribute to the poor air quality.

Amend: Revise to read “A person may not conduct open burning or operate a waste oil burning device, solid fuel-fired heating device, or incineration device in an area for which the department has declared an air pollution episode under 18 AAC 50.245.” Health needs and attainment can’t be met without cutting smoke from high polluting devices. Black smoke is commonly seen coming from waste oil burners associated with oil change businesses and car sales lots. An incinerator owned by a business on Chena Pump Road, a heavy smoke area, frequently adds smoke to the mix. These devices should not be operated during air pollution episodes.

Amend: Revise to lower the allowable level of opacity from a wood-fired heating device from 50 percent to 20 percent (or less) and remove “in an area for which an air quality advisory is in effect.” 20 percent opacity limits are commonly used in other communities to protect health and meet attainment goals.

3. 18 AAC 50.076 adds new section restricting materials allowed to be burned in a solid-fuel heating device in the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area.

Amend: Prohibit burning wood over 20 percent moisture content. Burning wet wood makes excessive smoke.

Amend: Prohibit burning any material not intended by a manufacturer for use as a fuel. Burning the wrong fuel in a heating device voids the warranty and can cause explosions and chimney fires, serious safety and liability concerns.

Amend: Prohibit burning any material that when combusted generates noxious, poisonous, or injurious fumes.

Amend: Limits on prohibited fuels are needed statewide to protect health, not just in the seriously polluted Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area.

4. 18 AAC 50.077 adds new section to establish emissions limits for new wood-fired heating devices, including hydronic heaters and woodstoves, that are manufactured, sold, or installed within nonattainment areas.

Amend: Delete subsection (4)(B) so that nonqualified solid fuel-fired heating devices and waste oil burners must be removed when real estate is sold. Woodstoves and boilers can last decades. No one wants nonattainment to last that long. Better yet, require all devices to meet the new standards. Grandfathering existing devices will not help neighborhoods where air pollution levels are already high.

Amend: Two revisions of EPA’s test procedure are needed. 1) Apply the rate limit so that no emission spike exceeds 2.5 g/hr limit during any individual test run. 2) Require cordwood models to be tested with cordwood, not lumber.

Amend: Add subsection to prohibit installation of solid fuel-fired heating devices not meeting 18 AAC 50.077. This would prohibit installation of new coal burning devices. Otherwise, the new regulations favor installation of coal heaters over wood.

5. 18 AAC 50.245(a) Table 6 adds PM2.5 level that triggers the three levels of air quality episodes: alert, warning, and emergency.

Amend: Set the PM2.5 trigger for Air Alerts to 35 micrograms per cubic meter or lower. The state has proposed to set the trigger at 56 micrograms per cubic meter. Nonattainment violations start at 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The trigger needs to be no higher than 35 to help prevent violations. Alaska must not be the only state in the nation with a trigger higher than 35. Juneau, AK uses 30, Washington State uses 25 and 35, Sacramento, CA uses 31 and 35, and Utah nonattainment areas use 25.

Hospitalization for heart attacks, lung ailments, and strokes increase at levels above 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A lower number better protects health. FNSB 11/29/2012, p 11. Scientific evidence and medical harm support a trigger of 20 micrograms per cubic meter. A level of 56 is cruel because it gives no protection to sensitive groups such as people with heart or lung problems, diabetics, elders, children, and developing fetuses.

Amend: Add section for public notification of Air Alerts. Establish “check before you burn” website, email notifications, toll-free phone number, and other media outlets. Air pollution can continue to increase after an announcement of unsafe levels of air pollution depending on how well the order is communicated and public response.

6. 18 AAC 50.245(a), (b), and (c) give authorized local air quality control programs authority to declare air quality episodes and advisories and to take immediate action.

Neutral. Pro: Local government retains full authority to authorize or not and knows where hot zones are located. Con: Lack of clarity on who is in charge may result in no action during an air pollution event.

7. 18 AAC 50.990 changes the definition of wood-fired heating device. It also adds definitions for clean wood, hydronic heater, solid fuel-fired heating device, and wood heater/wood stove.

Amend: Add definition for curtailment action – “No person shall operate (combust material in) any solid fuel-fired heating device or incinerator or burn waste oil during a curtailment period. Visible smoke from the chimney shall be prima facia evidence of a violation.” Defining and taking action to limit wood burning emissions is vital to the success of any control program. According to Dr Jim Conner, FNSB Air Quality Program Manager, “It is not possible to demonstrate attainment of the PM standard without limiting wood burning emissions on high concentration days.Conner 2012, p 6.

8. General Comments on the Overall Proposal

Important: Describe how air pollution has cost you money. Check the “fiscal impacts” box and submit supporting evidence on your expenses caused by air pollution. Include medical expenses, air filtration systems and filter replacements, moving expenses, missed workdays, reduced property values, receipts, letters from your doctor, harm to your business, etc. State law requires agencies to “pay special attention to the cost to private persons of the proposed regulatory action.” AS 44.62.210.

Are these rules sufficient to meet attainment requirements in the federal Clean Air Act? These rules must equip DEC with the tools to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) meeting meet federal Clean Air Act requirements for nonattainment areas, 42 USC § 7501-7515. These requirements establish that a state shall use, at a minimum, reasonably available control technology and demonstrate reasonable further progress. DEC has not provided sufficient information to the public to determine that these rules will be enough to do the job. If these rules are not sufficient, the rules will need to be strengthened, entailing additional delays on controls and enforcement needed to protect health and meet attainment.

The proposed rules fail to consider control options used in other states and identified in Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke EPA 3/2013. The state is required by federal law to use, at a minimum, reasonably available control technology (see previous comment).

Action is needed to reduce air pollution now, this winter. Reference the cost information (submitted above). Why wait until 2019 or later to meet PM2.5 attainment? Children’s lungs develop every day. Heart damage can happen in hours. Further, nonattainment is already hurting property values, jobs, and the military. What will be done to end the delays and move forward with effective and enforceable rules to clean the air?

State agencies have authority to take emergency action now, this winter, under AS 44.62.250. Two steps are urgently needed to protect health this winter: 1) Prohibit installation of solid fuel-fired heating devices not meeting 18 AAC 50.077 (#4 above) and 2) Add PM2.5 trigger of 35 micrograms per cubic meter (or lower) to Table 6 in 18 AAC 50.245(a) (#5 above).

Is a new law on the way to provide for enforcement? Current law allows enforcement only through civil filings in court, not citations or tickets. Air pollution enforcement through civil actions will not be timely, cost-effective, or sufficient as a deterrent. The state delayed taking the owner of two hydronic heaters near Woodriver Elementary to court for 4 1/2 years, causing extensive injuries to neighbors, teachers, and students. Once the case was filed, it still took 6 months to be resolved. Without ticketing authority, these regulations cannot be effectively enforced. [See 20 Affidavits for the State, filed 1/31/2013]

Will the state air quality program be revenue neutral and not shift costs to the public? Other communities levy a registration fee for solid fuel-fired heating devices and fine violators.

Are other regulations on the way to limit PM2.5 emissions from 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 the proposed regulations fail to control emissions from other sources and promote installation of highly polluting coal heaters.

PM2.5 precursors (such as SOx and NOx) that convert to PM2.5 in the atmosphere are not addressed from these regulations, yet are significant contributors to PM2.5. Coal burned in power plants, stoves, and boilers contribute PM2.5 precursors that interfere with meeting attainment.

Are other regulations on the way to protect air quality inside buildings? People exposed to PM2.5 air pollution inside workplaces, public buildings, homes, and schools are not protected under these regulations. Outside air pollution comes inside buildings. During the winter, most exposure to PM2.5 occurs indoors.

New regulations are needed to protect health outside the designated PM2.5 nonattainment boundary. Neighborhoods outside the nonattainment area face the same high air pollution levels as those inside but are offered no protection by these regulations. Unprotected neighborhoods include: Herning Road, Becker Ridge, Cripple Creek, Spinach Creek, areas off Freeman Road, Ester, and Moose Creek.

New regulations are needed to require labeling of moisture content of wood sold by firewood sellers over a certain size or to set limitations on moisture content for firewood sales.

The proposed regulations need to include an exemption for essential residential heating during a temporary power outage and where a solid fuel-fired heating device is the sole source of heat. Exempt devices must be registered by a cut-off date and upgraded when the property is sold. A exemption for essential residential heating is standard in other states including California, Washington, Nevada, and Utah.

A new definition should be included for “essential heating” to provide for residential heating needs that are absolutely necessary.

The state needs to take an active role in public education to inform residents about the importance of clean air and the effect of new regulations. Better understanding of the health-air quality connection will build public support for reducing PM2.5. Public outreach should also inform residents about state programs such as AHFC and ADHSS-public assistance.

9. Comments on the Public Review Process for this Proposal

The absurdly long, 125-day comment period on the regulations allows more installations of highly polluting devices until the new regulations are finalized. Local government’s change-out program is actively paying for installations of solid-fuel heaters that do not conform with proposed regulations yet will be grandfathered. These new heaters cannot be used during curtailments and may well require a second subsidy to be removed. Is the goal of these rules and the local change-out program to benefit manufacturers and dealers and to further delay needed action for health and attainment?

Will public comments be posted online? A higher level of public engagement will occur if DEC provides links to each comment submitted and to DEC’s response. Modern technology makes it easy for DEC to post comments and responses online, thereby allowing the public convenient and immediate access to the information.

The public hearings, scheduled Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau, are inadequate for individuals who work during the day. Please extend the hearing to include evening hours of 5:30 to 7:30 pm. [DEC added a new hearing: 5 to 7 pm on Jan 7, 2014 at Fairbanks Westmark Hotel, Yukon Room – 813 Noble St.]

Alaska DEC should ask EPA to comment on these proposed regulations and the draft SIP. The regulations are the foundation for the Fairbanks PM2.5 State Implementation Plan (SIP) to be submitted to EPA by the State of Alaska. The SIP was due Dec 14, 2012. It will only cause further delay to wait for input from EPA until after the SIP is finalized and submitted. If EPA cannot accept the SIP, additional comment periods for new regulations and a revised SIP will be needed, dragging this process out for months longer. Timeline posted by DEC.

We do not support any further delays on submission of the SIP to EPA. The goals of health and attainment need to become priorities in this process.

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