smoke

Sam Bishop/News-Miner Smoke from a chimney flattens out across Goldstream Valley under a temperature inversion at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Ballaine Road is in the foreground.

A 12-member task force compiled by the borough mayor had its inaugural meeting to formulate the elements of a climate action plan to be delivered to the Borough Assembly in about two years, notes from the Nov. 5 meeting of the Joint Climate Change Task Force show.

Members of the task force include the three local mayors, a borough assemblywoman, scientists, engineers, a lawyer and representatives from the transportation sector.

“What are we as a community going to do to prepare and adapt as a result of climate change?” is a central question being addressed, according to notes prepared by Brittany Smart, special assistant to Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.

The Borough Assembly in July directed Ward to form the task force and seek “external funds” to pay for a climate action plan. The task force will decide what the plan will achieve, who will be hired to develop it and the level of public involvement.

The municipality of Anchorage adopted its climate action plan in May. The city of Homer was an early adopter, approving a climate action plan in 2007. Both plans have goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions. It’s not clear whether emissions reductions goals will be part of the Fairbanks plan.

The Home Heating Reclamation Act, a ballot question approved by borough voters in 2018, forbids the borough from regulating what comes out of chimneys.

The resolution underpinning the new task force requires the climate action plan to include “actions allowable by a second class borough to address climate change impacts.”

Jimmy Fox, a biologist and member of Fairbanks-based Citizens for Clean Air, is a member of the task force and said he would like the plan to include advice for individuals to mitigate climate change.

“People want to have agency. What can I do?” Fox said.

He expects multiple public meetings to unfold during which residents will be asked for their ideas and opinions, he said.

Another member of the task force is Ken Hall, account manager at Lynden Transport and chairman of the Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

Hall said he has no agenda and is keeping an open mind about what ought to be in the plan.

“We’re all kind of trying to do our homework,” he said.

Climate change is a topic of discussion at the chamber of commerce, Hall added.

“This is something that is on the horizon. It’s a topic kind of on everybody’s mind,” he said.

Members of the task force have received links to other climate action plans from cities across the globe including Toronto, Copenhagen and Christchurch. Cities in the Lower 48 are also on the list including Boulder, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and Richmond, California, a city near San Francisco with roughly the same population as the Fairbanks borough.

A project website was discussed at the inaugural meeting, according to the meeting notes. The task force is looking at meeting every month.

Fox said the next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9. The borough will publicly notice the meeting once the agenda is finalized, according to Ward.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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