Here’s some information about this week’s public hearing for the current home heating ordinance:

*When* – Thursday, January 29, 2014

It begins at 7:00 p.m. (the regular Borough Assembly meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.).

Sign-ups for testimony begin at noon.

Each person has to sign-up to give testimony for himself or herself; no one can sign-up for another person.

*Where* – 809 Pioneer Road in Fairbanks (behind The Big I pub and near the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner building).

*Why* – To discuss the latest (“Proposed Substitute”) home heating ordinance that has been proposed by some members of the Borough Assembly.

It is important to note that there is a more current, somewhat different, version of the original ordinance that will be the subject of this meeting. Please read it at this link before attending the meeting http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/meetings/ordinances/2015/2015-01s.pdf.

*Why Attend* – To be a real part of cleaning-up our air and protecting and strengthening our right to heat our homes affordably.

The Borough Assembly is very open to hearing your comments and taking them into consideration. This meeting is likely our last chance to have our voices be heard about this issue and work together to create an ordinance that is as fair and square as can be for everyone in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Your voice *really does count*. This is our community, this is our issue, and together, we can solve it in a way that is best for everyone.

*More Important Information* – Here’s a link to information about attending Borough Assembly meetings and giving public testimony http://www.co.fairbanks.ak.us/assembly/default.htm.

For those not attending, but interested, the meeting and hearing can be heard via live streaming (http://www.co.fairbanks.ak.us/fnsbwebcast/fnsbwebcast.htm) through the FNSB website.

        On a personal note… Wayne will be there and looks very forward to seeing many of you! If you see him, please introduce yourself or say, “Hi!” if you get the chance!

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Input is Needed to Re-Write the Borough Assembly’s Proposed Home Heating Ordinance

        The sponsors of the recent Borough Assembly home heating ordinance (found at this link http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/meetings/ordinances/2015/2015-01.pdf) are writing a “cleaned-up substitute” and will try to have it done by the January 22, 2015 work session. This substitute will probably be the one that is voted on at the Borough Assembly/public hearing meeting scheduled for January 29, 2015.

        Now is the time to share comments with the Borough Assembly about the proposed ordinance. They will take these comments into consideration while writing the cleaned-up substitute, so that we may be able to avoid amending it “from the floor” at the January 29th public hearing.

        To share comments, we have two important opportunities:

1. Share them before the 22nd of January by e-mailing them to the assembly at assembly@fnsb.us.

2. Go to tomorrow night’s (Tuesday, January 20th) Air Pollution Control Commission meeting at 6:30 pm in the Borough Chambers. The proposed ordinance is the topic of the meeting and public testimony will be heard.

        These are two wonderful opportunities to work together with the Borough Assembly to re-write this ordinance.

Information about the Borough Assembly’s January 2015 Proposed Home Heating Ordinance

        The Borough Assembly has created a proposed ordinance that will affect every person in the Fairbanks North Star Borough in some form, but mostly, will affect those who burn firewood and or pellet fuels, and those who plan to install hydronic heaters for their main source of home heating. Please take a few minutes of your time to thoroughly read the proposed ordinance by clicking here.

Concerns about the Proposed Ordinance and Solutions

        Did you realize that, according to the proposed ordinance, Stage 3 air alert regulations state that those in the non-attainment area won’t be allowed to burn seasoned wood and pellets? As a matter of fact, citizens won’t even be allowed to operate Borough approved/listed heating appliances, but must rely on an alternate source of heat,  “such as a furnace or electric baseboard heaters”.

        There is a “No Other Source of Adequate Heat” designation that exempts some from this, but many feel that registering themselves or their families with the Borough to get this designation by filling out a form, as well as filing a legal affidavit with the government for it, is a ridiculous overreach.

        Another major concern is that, if this proposed ordinance passes, as of February 01, 2015, no one in the entire Fairbanks North Star Borough – not just the non-attainment area – will be legally allowed to burn firewood that is not seasoned, with a moisture content of less than 20%.

  • This includes rural FNSB Alaskans who burn green firewood in an older stove, but due to the fact that someone is home at all times, keep the fires burning hot enough to heat their homes sufficiently and without causing a particulate matter problem.
  • This includes people whose wood is close to being 20% or less moisture, and when mixed with firewood pellet logs, burns cleanly.

        These people are clean burning, affordably; to be “punished” financially or have to register themselves or their families as “No Other Source of Adequate Heat” citizens or families is an insult, and violation of their right to live comfortably while causing no one else discomfort. For many families to have to find and purchase seasoned firewood, a new home heating unit, or switch to heating oil or another alternative, in February, in Interior Alaska, is a problem, to say the least.

        This whole air quality/home heating problem can easily enough be solved by:

  1. Punishing the offenders who pollute the air by burning improperly and leaving those who burn cleanly alone.
  2. Educating citizens of the Borough about not only clean burning, but penalties for not doing so, by mass postal, certified mail and other media.
  3. Most importantly, realizing and acting upon the fact that the biggest part of the solution to our clean air/home heating issue can only be carried out by us, the citizens, by considering not only our own families’ quality of life and health, but the health and quality of life of our neighbors when heating our homes.
  4. Remembering that there is a safety net for those who have found themselves without clean burning abilities at this time. The State of Alaska Heating Assistance program can help in emergencies, and we, Wayne Hunter the Wood Cutter, LLC can try our best to help in heat emergencies, too (a post about this help is forthcoming).

        It’s not too late to change this ordinance. It’s time for those of us who are concerned about it to seriously study it, point out the flaws and problems we see in it, and offer constructive solutions to those, or even to the whole problem. It’s time for cool heads to stand up for heating rights and responsibilities at the Borough Assembly’s public hearing on this ordinance.

Public Hearing Information       

        Each person speaking at a public hearing in the Fairbanks North Star Borough usually only has three-minutes to make his or her point. In hearings where many people have signed-up to give testimony, the time limit is often reduced to two-minutes per person. It looks like this public hearing will receive a lot of public testimony. It would be helpful to plan/write-out a two-minute testimony, and have a three-minute testimony written-out as backup in case we have three minutes to speak.

        At this time, it looks like this public hearing could easily last for hours. To take precious time by getting or being off-track, to go on anti-government rants, or to speak about things not directly related to this ordinance is to take a huge chance on derailing our opportunity to correct this matter with the least government involvement, but biggest citizen involvement, possible. The more political diatribe is heard, the less the logical concerns and solutions may be, due to the fact that some people with outstanding things to say and solutions may have to leave before they have the chance to give their testimony, and that would be a most significant loss for every single person in the Borough. From our hearts, we ask everyone reading this, who plans to give testimony, to clearly stay on track and focused on concerns with this ordinance and possible solutions to them.

  •        The Borough Assembly meeting regarding this proposed ordinance begins at 6:00 p.m. and public testimony begins at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2015.
  • If you are unable to attend, you may submit written testimony (see the next link for more information).
  • For information about attending Borough Assembly meetings and giving public testimony, click here
  • For the rules of giving public testimony to the Borough Assembly, click here.
  • Sign-ups for giving testimony on this proposed ordinance begin at noon on the day of the meeting, January 29, 2015.
  • The Borough Assembly is located at 809 Pioneer Road in Fairbanks, behind The Big I pub and near the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner building. The number for them is (907)-459-1000.

In Conclusion

        Let’s do it! Let’s clean-up our air and protect our affordable home heating rights once and for all. We have the opportunity to rule ourselves responsibly as citizens, for the most part, on this matter. As Interior Alaskans, that is something we relish, but is also something that we must protect, and most importantly, take part in. With every right comes responsibility. We’ve got this – let’s get it done. Cursum Perficio

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