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Fairbanks borough to consider removing air quality rules

November 23, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks North Star Borough is considering removing air quality ordinances after voters took away the borough’s authority to regulate solid fuel heating appliances.

Borough Mayor Bryce Ward has proposed a measure to remove all regulations dealing with air quality, including prohibited acts and fines and definitions for items like alerts, heating appliances and smoke opacity, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported this week.

“I think the big part of it is to bring the ordinances into compliance with the proposition that was approved,” Ward said of the Home Heating Reclamation Act, which voters passed in October.

The ballot measure says the borough cannot “regulate, prohibit, curtail, ban, nor issue fines or fees associated with, the sale, distribution, installation or operation of solid fuel heating appliances or any type of combustible fuels.”

After the ballot measure passed, the state Department of Environmental Conservation took over the borough’s air quality responsibilities, including issuing air quality alerts.

Ward’s proposal would eliminate sections of borough code that include limits on particulate pollution in chimney smoke and what kind of heating appliances are allowed.

Fines of $100, $500 and $1,000 also would be removed for violations that include smoke crossing property lines, burning during a ban and operating a prohibited heater.

Since the penalties were adopted in 2016, the borough has issued three fines and hundreds of warning letters.

“Fines were always an option of last resort for enforcing the rules,” Air Quality Manager Nick Czarnecki said.

The borough assembly is expected to consider the proposal at its meeting Dec. 13.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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