New smoke pollution rules to be introduced in Fairbanks...

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New smoke pollution rules to be introduced in Fairbanks...

Postby Wilberforce » Sun May 21, 2017 12:56 pm

New smoke pollution rules to be introduced in Fairbanks, North Pole

Amanda Bohman May 15, 2017 Updated May 16, 2017 (…)

FAIRBANKS — A new local proposal to reduce smoke pollution is being introduced Thursday. The measure makes it harder to ignore burn bans and requires a permit to install a wood stove in a newly constructed house starting in 2018.

The ordinance sponsored by Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel would apply in areas of the borough known as the Air Quality Control Zone, which includes the most-densely populated neighborhoods.

The measure is in response to a reclassification of Fairbanks and North Pole from a “moderate” smoke pollution nonattainment area to a “serious” one

Under the new designation, the federal Environmental Protection Agency expects the borough and the state to adopt new rules to reduce the concentrations of PM 2.5, a byproduct of wood smoke that accumulates in the Tanana Valley airshed on winter days when the air is stagnant.

Levels of PM 2.5 in Fairbanks and North Pole routinely exceed limits set under the federal Clean Air Act and have caused environmental groups to sue the EPA to press the agency to enforce its clean air rules here.

Fairbanks is one of three cities — the other two are in Utah — facing new pressures to address PM 2.5, which has been shown in multiple scientific studies to erode heart and lung health.

Burn bans have been called in North Pole in recent years in response to smoke pollution. Ordinance 2017-44 would require owners of newer-model stoves to get a waiver if they want to avoid a Stage 1 burn ban.

Currently, burn bans under Stage 1 air alerts only apply to older-model solid fuel burning devices.

Stage 2 bans apply to all solid fuel burning devices in the Air Quality Control Zone, which runs north from the Tanana River to the ridge above Farmers Loop. To the east, it includes Badger Road and North Pole. To the west, it stops south of Chena Ridge Road.

Also under the measure, those participating in the wood stove changeout program would need to have their new devices professionally installed.

The ordinance additionally puts new requirements on those looking to avoid air quality rules altogether. The measure requires those seeking a “no other adequate source of heat” determination to show they have an approved device — essentially a newer-model stove — they know how to use it and their wood is stored properly.

“If economic hardship is the reason the applicant has no other adequate source of heat, validating documentation is required,” the measure states.

To show proof of economic hardship, a person would need to show that they qualify for some sort of economic or public assistance, according to the measure.

Applications for permits to install a solid fuel burning device in a newly constructed building would cost $375 under the new measure. The penalty for failing to obtain a permit would be $1,000.

Some of the new rules being proposed were recommended by the borough’s Air Pollution Control Commission, which held multiple public hearings.

The ordinance is set to be referred to a special Committee of the Whole meeting May 31 and a public hearing June 19.

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

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Re: New smoke pollution rules to be introduced in Fairbanks...

Postby Wilberforce » Mon May 22, 2017 4:36 pm

State boosts restrictions on wood sellers in battle against Fairbanks air pollution

Author: Alex DeMarban clock Updated: 9 hours ago calendar Published 21 hours ago

New state regulations to control wood smoke in the Fairbanks area are getting mixed reviews from woodcutters irked by the prospect of more record-keeping, but hopeful that the new paper trail will help stamp out a black market of illegal sellers.

"I hope (it means) people don't buy from the wood thieves anymore," said Oliver Rammersbach, owner of Alaska Timber Logging.

"But we got to figure this (paperwork) out. Maybe we have to do this on the laptop," he said as a steel saw screamed in the background while he cut wood on Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency on May 1 said it was bringing new restrictions to the notorious anti-regulation region to try to clean its dirty air. The federal agency said it would downgrade the region's status for continuing to violate pollution limits for fine-particle emissions, taking it from a "moderate" non-attainment area to "serious," a designation that carries more urgency.

The effective date for the new status will be June 9. Wood-burning, a key source of heat during winters that last half the year and where natural gas and heating oil is relatively expensive, is getting most of the attention as the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the state try to clear the air.

State environmental regulators said last week they will be putting two new rules in place, though the region is expected to see more restrictions in the future.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will require the removal or replacement of old, inefficient wood-fired stoves before a property is sold, leased or transferred. The stoves can be replaced with ones that meet current emission standards, such as EPA-certified stoves.

Also, commercial wood sellers will be required to register with the state if they sell firewood in the regulated area that includes Fairbanks and North Pole. The companies will have to measure the moisture content of the wood they sell with handheld meters, and provide paper records to customers.

Wood with a moisture content above 20 percent is considered "wet" and causes increased smoke. The Fairbanks North Star Borough has already outlawed the burning of wet firewood as part of its long-running effort to bring the region into compliance with federal limits.

Fines can range between $100 and $500, depending on the circumstances. No citations for burning wet wood have been issued yet, said Glenn Miller, the borough's transportation director who also oversees air quality.

The borough is focused on education, with Mayor Karl Kassel personally calling people who might be on the path toward a citation, Miller said.

Even if residents find fault with that regulation and others, there is broad support for cleaner air in the region, with people concerned about health effects caused by fine-particle emissions that can penetrate deep into lungs. Those emissions, often about one-thirtieth the size of the width of a human hair, can contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular problems and exacerbate conditions such as asthma.

Many residents are also concerned violations could lead to reduced federal funding for the region.

But the responses to warning letters are not very conciliatory, Miller said.

Sometimes, the letter "just goes in to light their wood stove" and some people "wave to us with not all their fingers," he said.

But, "we do have a community that wants this problem cleaned up, and they look to the borough to do that," he said.

The state's new requirements will affect large-volume, commercial wood sellers, not supermarkets or convenience stories that sell small bundles of split, dry wood, officials said.

The commercial wood seller must check samples of freshly cut wood with a moisture meter, which can cost around $40. A good portion of the wood sellers from the area, about 10 companies, have already registered with the state under a voluntary program that has helped prepare them for what's coming.

Under the new rules, selling wet wood will still be legal. But the paperwork will give burners confidence in what they are buying, since they have the responsibility of burning dry wood, said Cindy Heil, an environmental program manager with the state.

In some cases, homeowners have complained they bought and burned wet wood after the seller claimed it was dry, Heil said.

Buyers and sellers have been "pointing fingers" at each other. But the paperwork will stop that by giving proof of moisture content, she said.

The registration program was designed after reports of wood theft, with people going onto private property and state and federal lands to cut wood they shouldn't, Heil said.

"We encourage people to only buy wood from certified wood sellers," Heil said.

Rammersbach, the wood seller who on Thursday was cutting and hauling wood he had harvested before winter, is registered in the state program.

He said some of his colleagues gripe that the rules are getting onerous. But he said he will sit down in his "office" — the living room in his home — to fill out the stacks of paperwork he recently acquired.

"The thing is, I support clean air," he said.

Duane Viers, a registered wood seller who owns Arctic Firewood, said Thursday he thought the extra "red tape" and work of splitting logs and recording wood moisture would cause firewood prices to rise.

The good thing is the new rules, once they're in effect, will further educate residents, reinforcing that burning wet wood isn't good for the air, he said.

But Viers, who drives across the frozen Tanana River in winter to harvest wood, said he wasn't sure the rules would do enough combat the problems.

People who illegally harvest wood will still do so, because enforcement is lacking, he said. And the people who must buy and burn cheaper wet wood will continue doing so — they have to stay warm.

"I don't know if that will change anything as far as the pollution goes," he said.

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers the oil and gas industries and general assignments for Alaska Dispatch News.

source ... d-sellers/
• 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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