EPA officials come to Fairbanks to talk smoke pollution

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EPA officials come to Fairbanks to talk smoke pollution

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:21 pm

EPA officials come to Fairbanks to talk smoke pollution

Amanda Bohman, abohman@newsminer.com Mar 22, 2017 Updated Mar 23, 2017

FAIRBANKS — Communities in the Lower 48 that have cleaned up smoke pollution have some things in common, according to an analysis by a regulator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Local leaders were motivated. They brought together a variety of community stakeholders to work on the problem. They offered a wood stove changeout program. They educated and did outreach. They enforced air quality regulations. People complied.

Staff from the EPA are in town this week to meet with state and local air quality regulators and local leaders about how to reduce smoke pollution in Fairbanks and North Pole. Some of those discussions center on what has worked elsewhere.

“Right now, this week in particular, is a time for us to be thinking broadly and creatively on how to work best,” Tim Hamlin, director of the Office of Air and Waste for Region 10 of the EPA, told members of the Air Pollution Control Commission on Tuesday.

“Our message is: We want to work with you,” Hamlin said.

The week of meetings, including tours of local power plants, will culminate with a special Committee of the Whole meeting with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly at 5 p.m. Friday.

The pollution control commission meeting, held at Fairbanks City Hall, drew about 30 people, including Borough Mayor Karl Kassel; North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward; Kathryn Dodge, presiding officer of the assembly; Borough Assemblyman John Davies; and members of the group Citizens for Clean Air, which is suing the EPA to press the agency to enforce the federal Clean Air Act.

“We had a very productive day,” the borough mayor said of the meetings. “We’ve been meeting all day, chatting, gathering information and trying to see how best to move forward.”

Justin Spenillo, EPA environmental protection specialist, walked the commission through some examples of what has happened in communities in Washington and Oregon where they also dealt with smoke pollution.

The communities studied the pollution and determined the pollution was from burning wood, Spenillo said.

Like Fairbanks, they experience temperature inversions, which cause the air to be stagnant.

“It aways typically comes back to (particulate matter) from wood stoves on inversions days,” Spenillo said.

One of the communities he profiled was Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Spenillo said leaders in the community forged partnerships, including with an economic development agency, changed out dirty wood stoves and helped people with home weatherization.

They also enforced burning curtailments. In Tacoma, Washington, enforcement was also key.

Spenillo said as many as 40 teams would go out looking for violators during burning curtailments, though the typical number of enforcement teams was two or three.

In Oakridge, Oregon, a community of a few thousand, Spenillo said it lacked the political will to address the smoke pollution problem. For about a decade, nothing changed.

“They had the framework to address that issue,” Spenillo said. “They weren’t really enforcing.”

A new mayor took office and attitudes changed.

“They really committed to addressing the problem,” Spenillo said.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_new ... 11314.html
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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