Air Quality Stakeholders Group votes on final recommendations

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Air Quality Stakeholders group has been working for six months to determine the best community-based solutions for bringing the area into compliance with federal air quality standards for fine particulates. The stakeholders met for the last time Thursday to vote on final recommendations. Over thirty community members have been meeting as a part of the air quality stakeholder group since June. Thursday was their final meeting.

Chair of the Air Quality Stakeholders Group John Davies said, "As we've come together and looked at this problem, and have learned what the technical issues are, and what the social and practical issues are, around this problem, there has been a huge consensus on a variety of areas."

Davies says one takeaway is that in order to reach attainment, there is going to have to be some curtailment.

"There are time periods when no matter how good a wood stove you have, or how much we've done to the point sources, or what people are doing with their automobiles, there's just times when we're going to have to stop burning wood for a short period of time, and if we do that, we can achieve much cleaner air," Davies said.

Davies says that the more residents participate in burning responsibly, the curtailment periods would be shorter and less frequent. The Department of Environmental Conservation was at the stakeholder meeting to discuss how they will be moving forward with their air quality program.

Cindy Heil, program manager for ADEC, said, "This stakeholder process is giving very valuable information on how to tailor some of these control measures that have been identified, so we're very grateful for this process."

The stakeholders met Thursday to vote on recommendations of control measures to give to the DEC.

Program manager of the EPA, Dan Brown said, "We're hoping that the state now can take this package of control measures and put them together in a serious state implementation plan, as required by the Clean Air Act, to bring this area into attainment of the health standards as expeditiously as possible."

The recommendations they give to the state will be the culmination of the many hours the stakeholders have put in over the last six months.

We will have more on this story once the recommendations for the DEC have been finalized.