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Wood Ban Malarkey

Written by Heather Penn

For those who burn wood in Fairbanks and North Pole the burn ban can be devastating. Especially when wood is the only source of heat one has. A special meeting on this very issue was held last week at our local Denny’s. Lance Roberts and Tammy Wilson along with local citizens voiced their concerns about the current protocol regarding the wood burning ban.

Lance Roberts was one of two who voted no back in June when Mayor Karl Kassel proposed the new rule changes regarding burning wood. Tammy Wilson also expressed a dislike of the new regulations. For those who can’t afford to comply with the new regulations and aren’t able to get a waiver she says the consensus seems to be, “sucks to be you.”

 

The meeting, organized by the group, Citizens for Property Rights raised questions about the boundaries on the non-attainment zone, the fines associated with being out of compliance, areas in which the air pollution devices are located and possible solutions or rights to handling this issue. According to Wilson “if we all stopped burning today we still wouldn’t meet EPA standards.” Wilson told those in attendance that “the system is broken,” and how we fix that is by voting yes in October.

 

In a state where below freezing temperatures are felt for months on end, alternative measures of heating can be critical. This past June the borough informed citizens that they would suffer fines for burning during a non-burning alert period.

 

For many, therein lies much of the problem. Luke Hopkins, who attended the meeting at Denny’s, remarked that the monitors are put in the lowest portions of North Pole, which can give a false reading. Another recurring point of opposition focused on the non-attainment boundaries. Several times throughout the meeting those in attendance mentioned how 4 of members of the board, one who is also the owner of The Woodway (a woodstove store) find their property just outside the non-attainment area. The following is but one excerpt from a forum called Fairbanks North Star Borough Wood Burners.

 

 

David Tillett: “This picture of the non-attainment zone didn’t make sense until a friend looked up the property ownership in that convenient little cutout. It makes a lot more sense when you realize it’s because one of these board members for the Borough Air Quality Control Board owns a home and 35 acres in that handy little cutout. Not only is this individual’s business profiting extensively from board decisions, but it appears this individual didn’t want to personally abide by their decisions. How can the borough lawyers not see the massive conflict of interest and appearance of blatant corruption? Do they think we are truly that blind and stupid?”

“The circle is off fractionally due to the scale of the map. The point is clear that the non-attainment boundary uses Nordale and Chena Hotsprings, then it randomly cuts off an area. Is it a coincidence that a board member who helped define the border lives there?”

       

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Heather Penn

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