2010 March 11: AK Fairbanks: Pollution commission gives its support to borough’s chimney smoke ordinance

2010 March 11: AK Fairbanks: Pollution commission gives its support to borough’s chimney smoke ordinance
by Amanda Bohman / abohman@newsminer.com
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FAIRBANKS — The air pollution control commission gave its “general support” to the borough mayor’s chimney smoke ordinance but plans to recommend some changes to be developed at a March 23 meeting.

The seven-member group, devised to consult Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins on air pollution issues, passed a motion unanimously affirming the pollution control plan at nearly midnight Tuesday after a five-and-a-half-hour meeting.

The mayor’s proposed measure sets limits on the types of solid-fuel burning devices, or wood and coal stoves, that can be installed in the borough. It limits the kinds of fuels that can be burned and sets fines for chimney smoke pollution. It also establishes government subsidies to encourage people to swap their dirty stoves for cleaner ones.

A mandate by the federal government to clean up the air prompted the measure, which is drawing both praise and angry opposition in the community.

Wood smoke is believed to be the No. 1 contributor of airborne fine particulate matter, which scientists say is unhealthy. The average particulate level in Fairbanks air exceeds federal guidelines.

The voters last fall were given a choice of whether they wanted pollution control policy to be developed by the state or the borough, and the majority selected the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Judging from the commission’s debate about the ordinance, some of the changes are likely to center on what wood and coal stoves are selected for an approved list. The ordinance grandfathers in stoves that are already installed.

Commissioner Lawrence Duffy said he’d like a better definition of what sort of smoke constitutes a “nuisance.”

Commissioner Mike Pollen said he wants to work on the proposed lot-line setback for outdoor wood boilers.

The mayor is also working on some changes, which he said will be posted on the municipal Web site along with an explanation in plain language of what the 16-page ordinance sets out to do.

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