US, Alaska officials say pollution should be handled locally

March 2, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska residents are better off addressing smoke pollution at the local level, state and federal officials said.

Representatives from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted a town hall on Wednesday to talk about air-quality programs in Fairbanks and North Pole, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

Dan Brown, project manager for the EPA, said running the programs at the federal level would be “like solving the problem with a hammer.”

Denise Koch, director of air quality for the DEC, said the state agency would be spread too thin if it was tasked with monitoring the communities’ smoke pollution.

“Of course we would do our very best,” Koch said. “The reality is, we mostly don’t live in this community.”

Residents who attended the town hall spoke out in favor and against the air-quality programs.

Many people criticized local air-quality rules, calling the programs government overreach.

Others said the borough is doing too little to address a serious public-health problem.

“We’ve got to fix the problem,” Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel said. “I am trying to do it with as light a hand as I can.”

The borough has until Dec. 31, 2019, to reduce PM 2.5, a harmful particulate and byproduct of emissions, including wood smoke, which is to blame for much of the air pollution in the area. The smoke lingers when the air is stagnant.

Another town hall meeting on smoke pollution was held in January in North Pole. More meetings are planned, Kassel said.


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

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