2011 Sept. 27: AK Fairbanks: Right to breathe & COMMENTS (Vote for Prop. 2 on Oct. 4)
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The wood I burn does not cloud the skies with a reddish haze that never used to be there — back when just as many people burned wood but rich folks with large homes and even larger outdoor boilers hadn’t yet started to act as if they owned the sky and …
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To the editor:
I am writing to urge everyone to vote “yes” on Proposition 2. We all have the right to breathe air that does not harm us. No one has the right to infringe upon the freedom of another.
I am a wood burner and I ensure that the wood I burn does not harm my family or yours. The wood I burn does not cloud the skies with a reddish haze that never used to be there — back when just as many people burned wood but rich folks with large homes and even larger outdoor boilers hadn’t yet started to act as if they owned the sky and the air as well.
This is not an issue of folks who can’t afford better wood stoves doing what they have to do to get by. This is an issue of selfish people holding the rest of us hostage. Please help to return Fairbanks to a place where our children and elders can breathe healthy air and vote “yes” on Prop 2 on Tuesday.
« childofsol wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 08:57 PM »
“You bet it is based on junk science more like crap science. Here is a list of supporters.”
If you find something wrong with the years of data on particulate pollution that has been collected (the science), please enlighten us. Testimonials – while they can enlighten the public as to issue support and motivation of supporters – have no bearing on science.
“Proposition 2 is an appropriate, reasonable solution to a very serious problem.
— Mary A. Nordale, attorney, 3rd generation Fairbanksan, and former Commissioner of Revenue
I need Proposition 2. As an elder and diabetic, I am sensitive to the respiratory and cardiac effects of smoke. Heavy smoke comes on my North Pole property and into my home. My symptoms have worsened these past three winters to the point of having to leave during the winter months. We also need Proposition 2 for the younger generation. Smoke is a silent thief of our children’s athletic and academic potential. Every child has a right to reach his or her fullest potential. I support Proposition 2 for healthy air for us all.
— Jerry Norum, retired teacher, former member of the Borough Assembly and the Fairbanks City Council, resident of North Pole and Fairbanks since 1956
I support the Healthy Air Protection Act as a positive step toward resolving a crucial quality-of-life issue for our community. For more than thirty years, I have been a professional advocate for maintaining clean, healthy indoor home environments through my work with the Cooperative Extension Service at UAF. Clean healthy air is essential to our health and especially important to children and athletes. It is also important to note that wood heat is a feasible and excellent choice for heating, but using wood well and needing as little as possible is also best, because good insulation and building practices can do more for both air quality and energy cost than wanton burning of wood without smart building conservation practices.
— Rich Seifert, energy and housing specialist, air quality advocate, and sponsor of the Healthy Air Protection Act
We must vote for this measure to improve the quality of air in our community. When discussing the Healthy Air Protection Act with Fairbanks residents, I found people were only reluctant to sign the petition if they thought it would prevent them from burning wood. After understanding that Proposition 2 supports responsible woodburning and, in fact, protects our right to burn wood in the future, most people wanted to sign. I have personally worked in schools in smoke hot zones and observed children and staff become ill and develop breathing problems from smoke exposure. The PM 2.5 and smaller particulates embed in our lungs and heart tissue and create lifelong respiratory health issues. All Fairbanks and North Pole residents, especially children, deserve the opportunity to live, learn, and work in a healthy environment. Also, our poor air quality will have economic impacts if EPA must step in with more strict requirements to clean up our air. I support this local effort to strengthen our local economy and improve public health.
— Joan Franz, 31-year resident, sponsor of the citizen’s initiative, and pediatric occupational therapist
I support the Healthy Air Protection Act. I am a nurse at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. At the end of a “poor quality” air day my throat burns and my eyes water. However, my patients that are already immunocompromised suffer from far worse symptoms. We owe it to our community and our children to take care of each other and make Fairbanks a healthy place to live.
— Michelle Sebern, nurse at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital
We can’t afford to ignore the public health and quality of life impacts from winter smoke pollution. There are affordable stoves that don’t pollute. How can we look the other way while our grandchildren breathe what we know is harmful? One of my grandkids is growing up in North Pole. There are negative economic impacts if we don’t take action. This citizen’s initiative responds to our community’s needs. I support the Healthy Air Protection Act and am voting YES.
— Nancy Webb, former Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly member and grandmother
We are long-term Fairbanks residents with a combined 65 years of residency. We are tired of seeing the smoke from outdoor boilers waft into our home and our children’s school. We support Proposition 2 because we love Fairbanks. Banning outdoor boilers is the best way to improve air quality for the health of all residents in our community.
— Anna-Marie and Carl Benson
I absolutely endorse this effort to bring healthy air to our community. It is desperately necessary and a positive opportunity to help those who are hurting from the heavy winter smoke.
— Torie Foote, former Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly member
I was a sponsor of the Healthy Air Protection Act. Almost everyone I asked signed enthusiastically. I’m a person who lives to be outdoors in the winter. On many winter days, we have unhealthy and even hazardous smoke pollution. As a woodburner who has long heated with an indoor stove, I burn responsibly and efficiently without excessive smoke. That’s not too much to ask when the lives of our residents are at risk.
With no limits on excessive smoke, we’re getting a reputation. One of my guests, a news anchor from Wisconsin, asked me recently if it was true that Fairbanks had the dirtiest air in the world. I was dumbfounded and could only answer, “Fairbanks has the dirtiest air in Alaska. I don’t know about the whole world.”
This made me realize how important it is to pass the Healthy Air Ordinance in October. We all live here expecting to have our basic needs met: clean water and clean air. Children and pioneers don’t have much say in where they live. We, as voters in the North Star Borough, as very fortunate residents of Planet Earth, have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard these basic needs for all the residents of our community.
— Mary Shields, 46-year resident, owner Alaskan Tails of the Trail, sponsor of the Healthy Air citizen’s initiative, and a wood burner
I support Proposition 2 because I don’t believe property owners have the right to pollute their neighbors’ air. I find it inexplicable that, even though the borough and State of Alaska are providing millions of dollars to improve individual homeowners heating systems, some who support this funding with government dollars oppose expecting a property owner to not impact others. Private property rights must include responsibility. This should be a no-brainer.
— Gary Newman, 40-year Fairbanks resident and responsible woodstove user
The dirty air crisis that Fairbanks experiences during the winters is severe and very detrimental to the health of our children and seniors. As an asthma sufferer, I know what the smoky winter air can do. The cost of heating our homes is very high, but that’s not an excuse for harming families, friends, and neighbors.
I don’t know why some people insist that poisoning the air is a right. This isn’t about the government getting in our business but about looking out for our neighbors. In Alaska, and especially here in Fairbanks, we are a community. We cut wood for a neighbor who can’t, and put wood aside for the next year so they can burn wood efficiently and cleanly.
Living in Fairbanks, where a section of our town is called “the Rectangle of Death,” is an embarrassment to everyone. It’s not a conservative or a liberal issue; we all breathe. This is a problem for all of us. The economic health of Fairbanks is at risk if we don’t get control of this smoke pollution ourselves.
— Marilyn Guttenberg, 8-year resident and retired consultant
I live outside the nonattainment area but have learned how to burn wood more efficiently and cleanly. I changed out my stoves to high performance models. Also, I cut, split, stack, and cover my wood in the spring so it is fully dry by fall. This saves me wood and work, gives me more heat per stick of wood, and reduced my stack smoke to almost none.
I have been closely associated with the PM 2.5 discussions for the past few years and was instrumental in putting together a coalition two years ago to better educate the public prior the 2010 Borough ordinance. I was quite dismayed the proposal was watered down (fines reduced, etc.) by the Assembly and then partially retracted by a ballot proposition supposedly based on property rights. What the 2010 ballot proposition essentially did was let anyone wishing not to comply with good practices in wood burning to spew their smoke over the neighborhood, in direct violation of everyone else’s property rights.
I sponsored the Healthy Air citizen’s initiative so we could get this discussion back in front of the voters. Of the people I asked to sign this initiative, only 4 of 30 declined. That sounds like folks want to address this problem again. The borough has only until 2012 to show EPA we have a workable plan in place. Without getting some teeth back into the ordinance, EPA will not accept our plan, and the consequences could be far-reaching.
Coming from the medical profession, I fully understand the problems associated with high levels of wood smoke in the air. I have several asthmatic friends whose health deteriorates markedly when the smoke in their area builds up.
— Dr. Karl Monetti, 40-year North Pole resident, retired veterinarian, and a wood burner
As a sponsor of the Healthy Air citizen’s initiative, I’ve met thousands of residents who are counting on this effort to improve their lives. The harm residents have experienced from smoke is chilling. Fairbanks is where my children were born and where we want to live. As their mother, my greatest responsibility is to give my girls every chance for the best life possible.
— Sylvia Ward Schultz, 21-year resident, mother of two elementary-age children, author Clean Air Fairbanks blog, and a wood burner
As the years have passed, we are no longer the only folks living on the mountain side. I’m an enthusiastic wood burner with enough wood split, stacked, and covered for our needs for two or three years. The wood we burn is well dried to get the maximum BTUs with the minimum air pollution. I’m concerned about the environment we share with our neighbors, especially those who are air breathers. Say, isn’t that everyone? We have to tailor our actions to show respect and consideration for others. I don’t throw my garbage over the fence into the neighbor’s backyard, nor do I create unnecessarily hazardous air pollution that would endanger their health. My personal freedom ends where my actions would create harm to those around me. I signed the Healthy Air Protection Act to help get the petition process underway, and I certainly support the Healthy Air Now efforts.
— Glen Simpson, UAF Professor Emeritus, sponsor of the citizen’s initiative, and a wood burner who has lived in the Fairbanks area for a half century
I was raised here in Fairbanks and decided to become a sponsor of the Healthy Air Protection Act as a result of experiencing the worst air quality these past few years that I’ve ever seen in my 41 years here in Fairbanks. Also, as my family heats with wood, I fear that privilege could be taken away from us if we don’t take responsibility locally.
— Putt Clark, 41-year resident, sponsor of the Healthy Air Protection Act, graphic artist, mother of three, and a wood burner
Alaska Thermal Imaging is committed to efficiency, health, and comfort. We strongly endorse the Healthy Air Protection Act. It is smart, responsible, and progressive. It’s a grassroots campaign from the people for the people. Fairbanks should have never gotten to this spot to begin with. This initiative may be Fairbanks’ Last Chance to get it right. Tuesday, October 4th, be a voter for healthy air and vote YES.
— Emmett Leffel, owner Alaska Thermal Imaging and sponsor of the citizen’s initiative
I love heating with wood I’ve cut and split myself. Three cords heats most of our house each winter. There is nothing like working in the woods on a crisp fall day and nothing like a warm woodstove after running the dogs or going for a ski at 30 below. I’m also getting older. With these last few bad winters, there’s no ignoring the feel of smoke in my chest. I’m most concerned about the affect the smoke is having on my children. The wood I burn has seasoned for several years so it doesn’t smoke out my family or our neighbors. The excessive amount of smoke that comes from highly polluting devices needs to stop. The Healthy Air Protection Act will provide the Borough the tools to ensure that stoves are used properly and we all have air that is safe to breathe.
— Gary Schultz, 32-year resident, sponsor of the citizen’s initiative, father, and a wood burner
Since landing in Fairbanks in the mid-70s, I’ve noted a decline in the quality of winter air. It’s time to reverse this trend; let’s get serious about reducing wood and coal smoke. Science demonstrates that the health of pregnant women and their children is significantly affected by respiratory contaminates. Acting on this data, informed citizens educate each other, their neighbors, and policy makers. If being a voter is important to you, this is where the process begins.
— Douglas Yates, Ester resident and sponsor of the Healthy Air Protection Act
Our family supports the Healthy Air Protection Act. We are an active family that enjoys the outdoors. Two of us also have asthma. On the days when particulate levels are high and air quality is poor, we can’t run, ski, hike or even walk outside without the risk of becoming ill. Our child often gets very sick in the winter when air quality is poor. This often results in bronchitis and trips to the hospital. We need healthy air. We are a family that burns wood in the winter, but we do it responsibly. It is essential that we pass the Healthy Air Protection Act so everyone has clean air to breathe.
— Lisa Hay, 20-year resident, wood burner, and mother of an asthmatic child
I was glad to see the Healthy Air citizen’s initiative garner the necessary number of voter names to get it on the October ballot. High energy prices squeeze all of our budgets and many of us have turned to increased use of wood heat. I have been burning wood for over 25 years in Fairbanks. Splitting and stacking wood to season makes for more efficient and cleaner combustion. This initiative will help Fairbanks meet EPA standards and prevents a possible complete wood burn ban. It’s common sense.
— Larry Byrne, 33-year resident of Fairbanks and burns wood as his primary source of heat
The recent increase in fuel cost has caused people to burn more wood, especially in outside furnaces. Getting rid of outside furnaces especially, and upgrading woodcstoves that burn cleaner, is vital to the health of our community. When the air get so bad in the winter I start questioning bringing my 5-year-old child to school. That’s not right. Please let’s make this change because we can; we have the technology!
— Melissa Riordan, mom
I am an asthmatic. Need I say more?!
— Frank Keim, 50-year resident of Fairbanks
As a bicyclist, I appreciate the cleanest air possible. Thank you for this ballot measure which I will be supporting.
— David Lerman, City of Fairbanks resident, sponsor of the citizen’s initiative, and author of RenovationFairbanks.com
I’ve been running and biking for 50 years, since I was a young boy. I’ve always valued being able to propel myself using my own steam and in doing so have challenged myself not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well. When I first came to Fairbanks over 30 years ago I was immediately amazed how many others also ran, biked, walked, hiked, skied and otherwise enjoyed the beautiful surroundings that brought us to this place. And yet almost paradoxically we do these things in an environment which has become not only unhealthy to all but hazardous for some, especially in critical areas near schools, medical facilities and densely populated neighborhoods. As a retired teacher I have the deepest sympathies for educators and children who can’t run away from the smoke. Teachers do their best to educate our future leaders and most kids go to school where they’re sent. But absolutely none of them deserve to be hurt by those who burn inefficiently and create massive amounts of toxic, noxious smoke. None of us do. I strongly support this citizen’s initiative and urge everyone to get behind this one. Folks, it’s time to clean up our air.
— John Lyle, retired teacher and 30-year resident
People of faith are called to love our neighbors, which includes taking practical steps to protect the air our neighbors breathe. Proposition 2 is a good and prudent step in that direction.
— Mary Elizabeth Walker, Executive Director of Stewards of Creation-Alaska Interfaith Power & Light based in Fairbanks, Alaska
Residents Who Endorse Prop 2, the Healthy Air Protection Act, on the Ballot October 4
To add your name to this list and authorize Healthy Air Now for Prop 2 to use your name in ads to support Prop 2, send us the following form: Signature Endorsement Sheet. Print, sign, and return to Healthy Air Now, PO Box 81136, Fairbanks, AK 99708 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
« OneDad wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 01:34 PM »
The borough Did come up with a plan, and then the likes of Tamie willson over-rulled that plan by getting Prop A passed (using lies like “Vote for prop A for local control”)
The borough’s plan was even gentler then Prop 2, and would have helped out, but instead we got 2 more years of increasing smoke.
Prop 2 significantly reduces the smoke we put into the air, and we know that most of the PM2.5 is smoke that we put in the air, so this means that with Prop 2, the air will be much cleaner.
Sounds like it will help solve the air quality problem to me!
1AhHa said “I’am talking about whether or not a person can burn a lump of coal 60 miles away from Fairbanks.”
In that case, you will want to vote for Prop 2, which only bans coal in the non-atainment area. This is less then 2% of the Borough’s 7200 square miles, and barely stretches 15 miles away from down town Fairbanks. 60 miles out you will not be banned from doing anything, but you will still be eligible for the stove change out program if you want to get a more efficient stove, or the tax credit to maintain your regular furnace or stove.
Without Prop 2, it is unlikely that we will meet the EPA requirements, and thus they will make even you stop burning 60 miles out.
« TheAlaskaCurmudgeon wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 10:50 AM »
childofsol: I’d suggest that we take our trash over to Tammie’s place and dump it there, but amidst all the junk she’s got spilling all over her lot, she’d never even notice the added items.
« childofsol wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 10:17 AM »
“I think in history we have groups that decided to signal out certain groups of people. They burned them or put them in camps just because they were different or just didn’t like them.”
“I think in history we have groups that decided to single out certain groups of products. They banned them or restricted them just because they were harmful.”
That’s funny, TAC. And let’s not bother covering the truck bed; if we’re gonna exercise our rights, we’ve got to exercise ALL our rights. That slippery slope and all.
« OneDad wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 10:16 AM »
MomForDeath – pretty weak arguments, really. You make a laundry list of lifestyle choices that affect health, and then seem to claim that we shouldn’t care about how what we breathe affects our health? Last I checked, we all need to breathe, all the time.
And quit it with the Slippery Slope argument. Prop 2 is not opening the door to outlawing woodstoves. Most of the Prop 2 sponsors burn wood to heat their homes.
The EPA has set a deadline of attainment for us in 2014. And then they’ll decide what’s best for us. How our air is this winter does affect whether or not we’re in attainment in 2014, because they average 5 years.
« TheAlaskaCurmudgeon wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 10:09 AM »
childofsol: I’ve got a great idea. I have some trash that I need to haul today, and I suspect you do as well. Let’s pile it in the back of my truck, head over to MomForDeath’s place, and dump it in her yard. After all, we have the right to get rid of our trash. No one can take that right away from us. And if she doesn’t like where we choose to offload it, then hey, she can always move.
« childofsol wrote on Saturday, Oct 01 at 10:00 AM »
“One group wants to infringe on another group”
That’s bs and if you don’t know it you are ignorant indeed. We don’t care what you do in your home or on your own property. It’s the harm that you are doing to other people’s property that we have a problem with.
Yes, clearly some have closed minds.
I suspect that you are a generation or two shy of a personal understanding of the harmful effects of polio, lead, un-regulated food, etc. But we all have the ability to learn from the past.