Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote

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Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:27 pm

Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote
Dermot Cole
October 7, 2014

An initiative extending a ban on local efforts to curb air pollution from wood smoke was losing in Fairbanks on Tuesday, the latest phase in a long-running fight about how to respond to pollution levels that exceed health standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The initiative, promoted by North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson and others, would continue an outright ban on local efforts to curb air pollution. The measure said the "borough shall not, in any way, regulate, prohibit, curtail, nor issue fines or fees associated with the sale, distribution or operation of heating appliances of any type of combustible fuel."

With more than 1,600 questioned and absentee ballots yet to be counted, the measure was failing by 165 votes. Final results won't be known until Tuesday.

An ordinance with that language is already on the books, but two years have passed since it was last enacted and sponsors wanted to guard against the prospect of having the borough assembly revise the measure. Under state law, an initiative cannot be modified for two years after its approval by voters.

Four years ago, Wilson led a campaign opposing local or state regulation to deal with wood smoke pollution. Wilson said it was “government at its worst” to regulate the way people heat their homes.

“I believe it is a fundamental right of every person, and family, to heat their home, responsibly, with any natural resource available,” Wilson stated in a 2010 news release.

Later, she said the state already had the authority to deal with the problem, so it would be redundant to have local regulations. The state has been slow to adopt regulations in response to the air problems in Fairbanks, however.

When the state proposed some limited regulation of wood smoke pollution a year ago, Wilson spoke against the proposals. The comment period on the proposed regulations ended nearly six months ago, but the Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to release an update.

A second initiative on the ballot Tuesday reconfirmed a limit on tax revenues for the borough, a measure first approved in 1987 that has been regularly renewed. As with the measure preventing local regulation of wood smoke pollution, the tax cap backers seek to have it confirmed every two years so it cannot be modified by the assembly.

The tax cap was approved by a 2-to-1 margin.

source
http://www.adn.com/article/20141007/eff ... banks-vote
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Fairbanks air quality measure defeated in final count

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:40 pm

Fairbanks air quality measure defeated in final count

Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 5:38 pm | Updated: 12:45 pm, Wed Oct 15, 2014.

By Matt Buxton / mbuxton@newsminer.com

FAIRBANKS — Proposition 2, known as the Home Heating Initiative, has been defeated.

The proposition to continue a four-year voter ban against Fairbanks North Star Borough regulation of air pollution failed among the 1,479 additional votes tallied on absentee and question ballots on Tuesday.

The deficit set on election day was extended by 191 votes with Tuesday’s results. The final vote was 5,825 “no” votes and 5,470 “yes” votes.

The measure’s failure marks the first time since 2010 that the borough will have the ability to impose regulations to combat the community’s poor wintertime air pollution.

“I feel like we’ve made a step in the right direction, and we’re at a place that we can try to do something at the local level,” said Patrice Lee, a co-coordinator for Citizens for Clean Air.

Citizens for Clean Air was the most active group opposed to the Home Heating Initiative since it was a group that actively campaigned against the issue because of growing concerns about the health consequences of chronic exposure to air pollution.

The ban was first introduced in 2010, with supporters arguing the borough should focus on voluntary efforts and leave regulation to the state. It was approved by voters in 2010 and again in 2012.

It’s unclear just what measures the borough might adopt during the next few months, but Assemblyman John Davies urged a careful approach to any new measures during his closing comments at last week’s Borough Assembly meeting.

“I don’t think we need to jump in and change things right away,” he said, adding that the borough has recently approved a new slate of voluntary measures and that it’s important to gauge their impact.

Davies said however, that he doesn’t believe the borough can sit back and do nothing.

“We need to start looking at solving that problem and we need to take a much more active role,” he said. “People are sick and dying from our air quality, and it’s an issue that the assembly cannot sidestep or dodge.”

The absentee and question ballot counting also solidified a win for David Pruhs in the race for Fairbanks City Council Seat F. Pruhs picked up about 140 votes in absentee voting and maintained a roughly 100-vote lead in the race.

“Did I tell you I was running for office?” he said on the phone to a friend. “Well, I was just elected.”

The election will be officially certified later this month.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

source
http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_new ... f6878.html
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Re: Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:15 am

Image

By slim margin, Fairbanks voters open door for local air pollution measures
Dermot Cole
October 15, 2014

FAIRBANKS -- An initiative to extend a ban on local efforts to curb air pollution from wood smoke failed after the final votes were counted from last week's election, opening the door for the Fairbanks North Star Borough to consider local control measures as it works with the state to reduce pollution levels.

The initiative, championed by North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson, failed with 5,825 no votes to 5,470 yes votes when about 1,500 absentee and questioned ballots were counted Tuesday. The vote was 51.57 percent against the measure and 48.43 percent in favor of it.

Rejection of the initiative will not change the local ordinance that keeps the borough from taking steps to limit air pollution but it will allow the mayor and borough assembly to consider proposals.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said he will be meeting with state officials to consider the status of state regulations and how the borough might improve air quality. He rejected any talk that this would lead to banning wood stoves, arresting people or preventing people from staying warm in the winter, allegations that have been made in the past by those who opposed local regulatory efforts.

Approval of the initiative would have meant that for two more years at least, the borough would be unable to modify an ordinance now on the books that says the "borough shall not, in any way, regulate, prohibit, curtail, nor issue fines or fees associated with the sale, distribution or operation of heating appliances of any type of combustible fuel."

Under state law, an initiative cannot be modified for two years after its approval by voters.

Four years ago, Wilson led a campaign opposing all regulations dealing with wood smoke pollution. Wilson said it was “government at its worst” to regulate the way people heat their homes.

Early on, Wilson opposed a borough measure that said people who have wood stoves or outdoor wood boilers that create a neighborhood nuisance would be warned to stop it. If they failed to end the nuisance, a fine of $30 would be issued on the first offense and $50 on the second offense.

Through Wilson's campaign, the borough did away with efforts to curb wood smoke pollution, while the state has delayed its effort to write regulations.

“The concern for air quality is subordinate to the need for warmth,” Wilson’s group said in 2010. Later, she said she favored state regulations, but when draft proposals were released a year ago, she spoke against them.

Citizens for Clean Air, a group that opposed the initiative, said the measure was an attempt to prevent any action by local government to deal with pollution.

"They want government to sit on its hands while a few continue to burn irresponsibly. Our opponents are fiddling while Fairbanks burns," Citizens for Clean Air said.
Contact Dermot Cole at dermot@alaskadispatch.com or on Twitter

source
http://www.adn.com/section/fairbanks
• 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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Re: Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:00 pm

Future of air quality enforcement in Fairbanks unclear
Posted: Saturday, October 18, 2014 11:55 pm | Updated: 9:00 am, Sun Oct 19, 2014.

By Matt Buxton mbuxton@newsminer.com

FAIRBANKS — The failure of Proposition 2 means the Fairbanks North Star Borough has the chance to regulate air pollution for the first time in four years, but a cautious approach aimed at involving the community means local controls won’t likely be part of the plan the state sends to the feds to show it’s serious about cleaning up the air.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation owes the federal Environmental Protection Agency a plan by the end of the year proving it can reduce Fairbanks’ chronic wintertime air pollution to meet federal standards set in the Clean Air Act.

The plan takes stock of everything from fines for particularly bad burners, voluntary programs like the wood stove exchange, activity on natural gas and possible regulations on wood stoves.

“The plan under development was being built based on the borough’s authorities prior to the election and the local programs currently in place,” said Alice Edwards, the head of DEC’s air quality division, in an email this week. “The upcoming year-end federal deadline for plan transmittal to EPA does not provide much time to incorporate new ideas before the draft plan is released for public review.”

That means the state plan, which must include the scientific modeling to show Alaska can meet federal air standards in the next few years, won’t be able to take credit for whatever the borough does in the coming months.

“However, air quality plans are living documents that are routinely amended over time and we expect that will be the case for this local plan as well,” Edwards added.

That plan, which needs to be put out to for public comment and review before it can be sent to the EPA, was debuted in a draft more than a year ago. There has been little public news on it since then.

The draft included tougher regulations on wood stoves and the ability to declare air quality episodes and take, at the time unspecified, action. The draft regulations didn’t rule out the possibility of burn bans on particularly bad days for households that had and could afford non-wood heating.

Wood smoke is a main contributor to the borough’s poor wintertime air quality and growing concern about its health impacts. A 2010 state report showed higher hospital visits related to heart, lung and strokes on poor air quality days.

The borough has been under a voter-passed ban on local regulation of air pollution since 2010, but a renewal failed by about 3 percentage points with local voters on Oct. 7. The results of election will be certified later this month, allowing the assembly to repeal the ban.

The assembly has urged a measured approach to dealing with air quality, taking stock of recently approved voluntary measures before adding in any new regulations, but Assemblyman John Davies said it’s an issue that the assembly must deal with.

The head of Citizens for Clean Air, a group that opposed the measure, said after the election that the vote can’t be considered a mandate and that both sides must come together to work out a solution that works for everyone.

“We have to move forward with a plan that accomplishes the goals and just rushing into something willy nilly isn’t going to do what we want it to do,” said Patrice Lee. “We have to be respectful of the whole community.”

Edwards echoed the sentiment, saying that community involvement will play an important role in whatever measures are chosen by the state or the borough in the next few months.

“While time is short to complete and transmit the plan to EPA, it is critical that the air quality plan work for the community. Local input is critical to crafting an approach that makes sense for the area and DEC looks forward to further discussion with the borough administration and the community on this important issue,” she said. “The success of any plan is dependent on the ability and willingness of the public to implement it.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

source
http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_new ... b2370.html
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Re: Effort to ban local pollution controls splits Fairbanks vote

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:51 pm

High turnout in west Fairbanks helped defeat Prop 2 air quality measure

Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:29 pm | Updated: 5:55 pm, Wed Oct 22, 2014.

By Matt Buxton mbuxton@newsminer.com

FAIRBANKS — The vote on the municipal election’s Proposition 2 was split along the commonly seen east-and-west divide in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, but for the first time in three elections, it failed.

The voter initiative to continue a four-year prohibition of borough-backed regulation of air pollution generally failed with precincts in western areas of the borough, such as College, Ester, Goldstream, Chena Ridge and Farmers Loop, but passed in eastern areas of the borough, such as North Pole, east Fairbanks and Badger Road.

The big difference this time around?

That voters in the western areas of the borough turned out in far higher numbers.

According to a News-Miner analysis of the Oct. 7 vote, the average turnout in voter precincts that voted against Proposition 2 clocked in at 19.5 percent while the average turnout in precincts that voted in favor of Proposition 2 clocked in at just 11.37 percent. Overall turnout in the borough, including absentee ballots, was 16.9 percent.

Borough Assemblyman John Davies, an opponent of Proposition 2 and supporter of borough-backed regulation of air pollution, attributed the higher turnout to the active campaign of Citizens for Clean Air, which mounted the first widespread effort in favor of local control of air pollution.

“I think that side of the issue was much more active,” Davies said. “The Citizens for Clean Air group was very, very active and their sense of urgency was higher than the vote ‘yes’ folks, and, for me, that’s what explains the turnout.”

Citizens for Clean Air mounted an active campaign that included homemade signs and sponsored visits by experts on the health impacts of air pollution.

Assemblyman Lance Roberts, who supported Proposition 2 and opposes borough control of air pollution, said he agreed with Davies’ analysis of the campaigns and added that he felt the supporters of Proposition 2 had grown complacent.

“After four years, people have forgotten the reasons they needed the initiative in the first place,” he said.

An act similar to Proposition 2 to ban or limit the borough’s role in air pollution regulation first passed in 2010 after the Borough Assembly adopted regulations that included fines for dirty wood burners. The act passed by a wide margin in 2010, but a closer margin in 2012.

The current unofficial vote tally with the Fairbanks North Star Borough puts Proposition 2 failing by 3 percentage points, 51.5 percent “no” votes to 48.5 percent “yes” votes.

The act’s failure of the measure means the Borough Assembly could enact regulations on home heating, particularly around wood burning. Wood smoke is considered to be a main contributor to the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s chronically poor winter time air pollution, which has drawn the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Assemblyman Davies said he’s urging the assembly to take a careful, measured approach when considering any new regulations. That’s because the Oct. 7 vote was close, and he doesn’t feel like the assembly has a blank check to enact regulations.

“While the measure failed it was fairly even, so I don’t believe the assembly has a mandate to go out there and put in draconian regulation. There are a significant number of people who want some action and a significant number of people who don’t,” he sad. “The borough has to be very careful about what it does, so it does the things that will be the most effective but that will be the least intrusive.”

He suggested the Borough Assembly publish several possible regulations and hold a special assembly meeting to hear from the public in a town hall-style meeting. That input will hopefully come from both sides and help inform the assembly about what could be acceptable measure to the public.

Roberts agreed, adding that people in the precincts that supported Proposition 2 will be watching the assembly’s actions closely. A wrong step, he said, and that group will have a reason to turn out in 2015.

“They need to be very careful if they’re going to do something very restrictive,” Roberts said of his fellow assemblymembers. “If they can’t show their case for why these regulations are going to have the air quality benefit want, they’ll just lose on a referendum or an initiative. They need some kind of proof, not just a feeling that it’ll work.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

source
http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_new ... b2370.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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