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Borough Mayor Anticipates Comments on New Air Quality Ordinance

Fairbanks, AK - The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly is tasked with advancing an ordinance during their regular meeting Thursday that amends current borough code to allow for local regulation of air quality.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins says he expects plenty of public testimony during the Citizens’ comments portion of the meeting even though the ordinance won’t be up for public hearing for another two weeks. 

“I think they see we have to do something on the local level, because we have been restricted from doing that for four years," said Hopkins. "Now, that we have the ability to step back into this, it’s important for our residents’ health and there will be some people that don’t like what we’re doing, but this is what getting clean air means.”

The ordinance is listed under ‘New Business’ on the assembly’s agenda.  That means members will vote to advance it to both the Air Pollution Control Commission and the Finance Committee next week. It advances for public testimony and assembly debate in two weeks.

Among other actions, language in the ordinance limits the installation of certain sold fuel burning appliances in areas where particulate matter exceeds 2.5 microns per meter, better known as PM 2.5, unless those appliances meet certain Borough requirements.  The ordinance also outlines procedures for enforcement of specific air quality standards and includes a list of fuels that would be prohibited from burning.

Mayor Hopkins says he’s heard from residents who are both for and against the ordinance. “I’ve already heard some comments that ‘why are we doing this, we did this before and we didn’t like it,’" he said. "Right, but many people did like it and they spoke up again.”

This is the first time in four years local government has had the option to regulate air quality, after voters rejected a ballot measure last October that limited local government from doing so.