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Air quality regulation ballot measure passes

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:29 am | Updated: 11:33 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks North Star Borough voters approved Proposition 3, an initiative that stops the borough from regulating air pollution from home heating devices in any form, by a safe margin in voting on Tuesday.

The measure, which passed with roughly 53 percent of the vote, will strip the borough of any enforcement powers relating to air quality, relying on the state to address the borough’s worst burners.

It’s the third time in as many years that borough voters have rejected borough regulation of air pollution from home heating devices.

The measure was authored in part by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. She authored a similar ballot initiative in 2010 that stopped the borough from imposing fines on home heaters.

Voters rejected a ballot initiative last year that would have introduced stricter air quality regulations and banned hydronic heaters.

The Borough Assembly had approved a measure to deal with air quality that would have been a complaint-driven process to contact, educate and work with problematic burners. A fine process would have been enforced for burners who failed to clean up after the intervention. That measure was slated to go into effect at the end of October but will no longer be enacted.

The passage of Proposition 3 comes at a critical time, a few months before a comprehensive plan of state and local actions is to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency to prove the end of the borough’s air pollution problems is in sight.

If the state fails to submit a plan or the EPA finds the plan is insufficient, it can cut off federal roadway funding to projects that are within the area of the borough that exceeds the EPA’s clean air standards or impose additional regulations on larger air quality projects. The EPA also would have two years to impose its own air quality plan on the borough.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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