Fairbanks Proposition B, Air Quality Program (October 2009)

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Proposition B, Question to Administer Air Quality Program was on the October 6, 2009 ballot ballot in Fairbanks North Star Borough.

This measure was approved

  • YES 930 (56.3%)Approveda
  • NO 722 (43.7%)[1]

This proposition asked whether the borough should enter into an agreement with the State of Alaska to allow the borough to locally administer the PM2.5 air quality program. The question of air quality is a big issue in Alaska, especially the Fairbanks Borough which include many homes that use wood fired heating systems to heat their homes during the long winters. Although this proposition is not legally binding and many residents don't want stricter rules on wood pollution, the borough government may be forced to act regardless of the voter's response to this questions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a study three years back saying in winter the borough experienced unhealthy air quality; this has forced the borough to find some way to reduce their air pollution. Residents feel that this will incur stricture rules which they are not entirely sure they want.[2]

The EPA has standard nationwide standards and although the voters are being asked if they want this program initiated, there is a time limit the borough has in order to have a program up and running to generate cleaner air in the area. The real question is whether the borough wants this run on a state or local borough level. They may not have a say in if this must go through, but it if the matter is administered locally is still a possibility. Cleaner air would be better for all in the borough, but it is thought that a locally run program would be more suited to the specifics of the local people. Even after October, this question is still in the air.[3]

With the program now approved, albeit by a small margin, it is now up to the government to implement a program. Federal sanctions may be a result if the borough government is unable to enact a program quick enough, something local residents do not want to see happen. Residents are divided over the issue and many dissaprove of the borough and EPA's methods of dealing with wood fired heating systems.[4]

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