September 29, 2017
On August 29, 2017 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is approving the Fairbanks North Star Borough fine particulate or PM2.5 air quality plan submitted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation because it meets Clean Air Act requirements for a moderate nonattainment area.
EPA’s approval of the moderate air quality plan means that the state, the Borough, and the community can fully focus on meeting more stringent area requirements that will be needed in the serious area plan and achieving clean, healthy air quality for Borough residents. The Fairbanks North Star Borough nonattainment area has the highest levels of particulate pollution in the country, and it is primarily caused by wood burning during the Borough’s frequent winter weather inversions.
“We are encouraged by the Borough’s efforts to work with the community to reduce emissions and appreciate EPA’s approval of the moderate area plan. This will enable us to focus our efforts on developing the serious area plan and improving air quality in the area,” said Denise Koch, director of Alaska DEC’s Division of Air Quality. “The improved local ordinance, long running changeout program to provide funding to upgrade wood stoves and hydronic heaters to cleaner heating appliances, and the annual Fairbanks Clear the Air Forum and Expo are providing the local community with the information and tools needed to solve the air quality problem locally.”
The approved moderate air quality plan identifies reasonable actions to move toward meeting the PM2.5 standard by reducing emissions from residential heating sources — wood stoves and hydronic heaters — that contribute to high particulate air pollution levels in the area. The plan includes measures to improve air quality, such as providing incentives to residents to replace old, high-polluting wood heaters, prohibiting dense smoke from chimneys, and prohibiting the use of unseasoned wood. When high levels of fine particulate pollution are expected in the Borough, bans on the use of wood heaters will go into effect.
In June 2017, EPA reclassified the Fairbanks area from moderate to serious nonattainment because the Borough did not meet the PM2.5standard in 2015. Reclassification to serious nonattainment requires that Alaska develop a serious air quality plan which will be more stringent than the moderate plan. In contrast to a moderate plan that requires all reasonably available emissions control technologies and measures, a serious plan requires implementation of the best available emissions control technologies and measures. Alaska and the Borough have been working to develop the more rigorous serious air quality plan to reduce fine particle emissions in Fairbanks and North Pole.
What this means to you.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough nonattainment area has the highest levels of particulate pollution in the country. Reclassification to serious nonattainment requires that Alaska develop a serious air quality plan which will be more stringent than the moderate plan.
MIRATECH can help.
Contact MIRATECH to learn more about stationary engine particulate matter emission control.