NORTH POLE, Alaska An opportunity for residents to eat homemade muffins while talking to borough and Alaska DEC officials about the Serious State Implementation Plan.
"We're doing Muffins with the Mayor out here in North Pole today to hear specifically from the North Pole community what we see with the PM levels that we have, some of the highest concentrations are in the North Pole area and presumably some of the regulations that come out will hit some of the North Pole residents the hardest," said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.
Ward reinforced how important it is to hear from the community and that the borough will be taking a position on the SIP after hearing from residents.
"Some of the concerns that I've heard from folks is the additional cost associated with some of the measures, particularly around the change from #2 to #1 heating fuel, and then also some of the constraints that they would put onto the wood sellers," said Ward.
One resident Mike Prax is bringing an Electrostatic Precipitator to meetings related to the Serious SIP this week to let the community know about this technology.
"It just seems like exciting technology, simple, seems to be reliable, and it seems to be effective. I think that it could be a very good addition to the plan," said Prax.
Some local wood burners have done citizen science on ESP's and how they reduce emissions. Prax says the hope is to get at least 100 residents around the monitor in North Pole to see if there is a measurable difference. Alaska DEC Commissioner Jason Brune was expected to head to a local home to see the ESP in her home. DEC officials say there still isn't enough scientific data to know if the ESPs are a durable option, but they are listening to the borough residents.
Prax says he thinks it's a reasonable plan, "a big impact for everyone is that they're going to require #1 fuel, but I changed to #1 fuel a couple years ago, and you pay a little more for the fuel but your broiler doesn't foul as fast and there's reduced maintenance cost, so it's going to be $50-100 bucks more per year to burn #1 instead of #2, well we can live with that. There's going to be more curtailment days, they're lowering the threshold for calling a curtailment, yeah that's bad but if we're burning dry wood in a certified stove, that should lower the starting point from their calculation and there should be fewer attainment days, so that's something we have control over, and that's good, so I think all and all, it's going to be some inconvenience, but I think it's certainly doable."
Ward says he thinks it's a good start in the right direction, "we've been working on this for ten years, and so we have to get ourselves into attainment to follow the federal rules, I think that this does that, unfortunately I think there's some stuff in here that people aren't going to appreciate, but the reality is we've had ten years and we haven't cleaned up the air yet."
There will be formal public hearings in late June to collect public comments on the record of which measures may or may not be feasible for this community.