Serious SIP: State releases air quality improvement plan for Fairbanks North Star Borough

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) The Department of Environmental Conservation submitted their final air quality improvement plan, the Serious State Implementation Plan, to the Environmental Protection Agency. This plan is a requirement by the EPA for the borough’s PM 2.5 nonattainment area to reach compliance with the Clean Air Act.

The Department of Environmental Conservation submitted their final air quality improvement plan, the Serious State Implementation Plan, to the Environmental Protection Agency. The release of the plan allows the public to see what changes will start affecting them starting as early as January. (KTVF)

The release of the plan allows the public to see what changes will start affecting them starting as early as January. As part of the plan, there are new thresholds for issuing stage 1 and 2 burning curtailments. The DEC says this may result in more curtailments this winter, depending on the weather.

The main highlights of the plan from the DEC:

- Changing from #2 to #1 heating fuel (September, 2022)

-Only allowing the use of EPA-certified 2.0 g/h emission wood burning devices, and requiring the removal of coal-fired and outdoor wood burning hydronic devices (December, 2024)

- Any properties sold prior to 2024 must meet the above requirements at the time of sale, and new construction may not have wood as the only heating source (January, 2020)

- Wood-fired heating devices must be professionally installed and registered going forward.

-Continuing to only allow dry wood to be burned, and adding a requirement that commercial sellers only provide dry wood (2021)

- Additional requirements for businesses that generate emissions, such as large industrial sources, and smaller businesses like coffee roasters and restaurants with charbroilers.

The DEC says that they did make changes to their original draft of the Serious SIP after public feedback. These changes include adding additional time before some requirements take effect to allow individuals and businesses to prepare for the changes.

In a press release, DEC Alaska Commissioner Jason Brune said, “the tremendous local input we received from Fairbanks and North Pole residents, businesses, and groups was used to help better tailor the regulations and requirements for the community. This plan will ultimately improve air quality and will lead to attainment in less than a decade.”

While the EPA is reviewing the plan for approval, the plan will start going into effect. Some of the changes have delayed effective dates, but the DEC says that most of the regulations will go into effect on January 8, 2020.

More information on the submitted Serious SIP is on the DEC’s Air Quality website.

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