From The Associated Press, Thursday, December 3, 2010:
Alaska’s fish and wildlife managers have released a state plan anticipating effects on Arctic bodies of waters, fishing industries and wildlife resources brought on by climate change.
The state is suing to overturn the federal listing of polar bears as a threatened species because of declining sea ice habitat but the 19-page report released this week begins by acknowledging that scientific and traditional evidence increasingly shows climate changing at unprecedented rates throughout the Arctic.
“We have to take a look at what could possibly occur,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, endangered species coordinator for the Department of Fish and Game.
Continue reading: Alaska acknowledges affects of climate change
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, November 23, 2010:
Restart plans for a dormant coal plant in Healy have slipped off schedule again. The proposed owner, Golden Valley Electric Association, said signs of progress still offer hope.
State environmental managers pulled permitting plans for the unit, dubbed the Healy Clean Coal Project, from a federal review desk in September.
The decision offered the federal Environmental Protection Agency more time for discussion, the state and GVEA explained following the decision. Brian Newton, CEO of GVEA, said at the time the decision reflected a “good sign” federal regulators wanted to clear the plan eventually.
Newton said the same Monday, even as the restart plan’s timeline appeared to backpedal again.
State environmental managers, carrying the proposal on behalf of GVEA, had suggested two months ago they’d likely resubmit the plans in November. Newton said Monday it will instead take weeks longer.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, November 21, 2010:
A new air quality measure by the Fairbanks borough mayor scales back regulations on wood smoke emissions but maintains a prohibition on the installation of old, dirty stoves.
The regulations on smoke emissions were set to go into effect next fall.
The ordinance on Monday goes before the Air Pollution Control Commission, an advisory panel to Mayor Luke Hopkins.
Hopkins said he wants rules on the installation of uncertified stoves to continue because the ballot proposition prompting his new air quality ordinance referred to the use of home heating devices and not their installation.
“We are still limiting the stoves so that we don’t keep digging ourselves in a hole,” the mayor said.
Emissions from increased wood burning in the borough include a tiny but toxic particulate known as PM 2.5, and the federal government has put Fairbanks on notice to reduce levels of PM 2.5 by 2014.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, November 22, 2010:
Hundreds of residents are showing interest in subsidies to upgrade to cleaner-burning home heating systems, according to the borough. So the Borough Assembly last week asked the state Legislature for $5 million to keep things rolling.
The incentive program, started with $1 million of federal seed money, is a response to chronic air pollution in Fairbanks. Health and air pollution officials from the local level to the Environmental Protection Agency have various interests in stamping out chronic wintertime air pollution. Studies consistently point to wood-fed heating as a major culprit.
The seed grant, from the 2009 federal recovery act, will mean hundreds of new heating systems, but Mayor Luke Hopkins said Friday many more people are expected to apply.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, November 13, 2010:
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is making some progress in its efforts to go green.
UAF got a C-plus on the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card this month, a grade that attempts to measure an institution’s commitment to sustainable practices. That was an improvement from the C-minus scores the campus received in 2010 and 2009.
The annual survey of more than 300 college campuses is made by the Massachusetts Sustainable Endowments Institute, and are based on a survey about recycling practices, food service and energy efficient building.
UAF established a Sustainability Task Force this year, and also got solid grades for the administration, recycling and transportation.
UAF still lags behind its neighbor to the south, however. The University of Alaska Anchorage saw its score this year climb from a B-minus to a B.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, November 15, 2010:
Art students huddled around a 2,400-degree grease fire behind the university experimental farm in 13-degree weather on Thursday. A big tank of vegetable oil fed the flames inside a fire box and heated their pottery within one of Fairbanks’ newest artistic achievements — a vegetable oil-fired kiln.
A University of Alaska Fairbanks ceramics class designed and built the kiln during the summer at “kiln city,” an outdoor clearing between the reindeer pens and the university ski trails. Kiln City also contains four wood-fired kilns.
Few universities have vegetable oil kilns because they are a relatively new concept and take up lots of space. Most use indoor electric kilns.
The kiln, which was paid for with a $6,000 grant from the university sustainability committee, will lessen the carbon footprint of ceramics and offer a new aesthetic to artists. The experimental design also tests how the technology fares in cold weather.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, November 15, 2010:
It’s a sign of the times in religious circles — caulking and sealing parties.
This new congregational activity will soon begin at Christ Lutheran Church and University Community Presbyterian Church.
Both houses of worship underwent sanctuary energy audits this past week, and as soon as they receive itemized reports, they will begin performing the simpler energy-saving tasks to reduce their energy consumption. Some larger projects might have to be contracted out.
“We found we were leaking like a sieve,” said the Rev. Susan Granata, pastor at Christ Lutheran.
Each church was motivated to take a closer look at its aging buildings for both stewardship and financial reasons.
“It was kind of a hard decision to have this audit. It was not inexpensive,” Granata said.
The financial drain of fuel and electricity costs became painfully apparent a couple years ago, when oil prices skyrocketed.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, November 12, 2010:
Analysts in state government who have spent months studying two options for a proposed large-scale hydroelectric dam in Alaska will recommend one next week.
The Alaska Energy Authority officials prefer one site over the other and will name that project as early as Tuesday.
A dam has long been discussed for Southcentral, which is connected to Fairbanks by electric grid. A year-old plan cited Chakachamna Lake, west of Cook Inlet, and the Susitna River as two top spots for the multibillion-dollar proposal.
Karsten Rodvick, a spokesman for the authority, said the agency plans to release its preference in a detailed recommendation next week. It will compare cost estimates, outline detailed construction plans, cite risks expected through permitting processes and list environmental concerns linked to both options.
“The intent of this is not only ultimately to be providing affordable, reliable, sustainable power to the Railbelt,” but also to meet the state’s goal of producing half its power from renewable resources by 2025, he said. He said the agency will post more information about the recommendation on its website following next week’s announcement. It will hold public workshops later this winter
From The Associated Press, Thursday, November 4, 2010:
The city of Anchorage is getting out of the home weatherization business.
The work can be done more efficiently by others, Mayor Dan Sullivan said Wednesday.
The city is withdrawing from the program at the end of March when its contract expires with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.
Nonprofit organizations doing the work in other parts of Alaska will likely pick up the work in the city, AHFC Executive Director told the Anchorage Daily News. The Alaska Community Development Corp. and the Rural Alaska Community Action Program could gear up to handle Anchorage too.
In 2008 the Legislature approved $200 million for weatherization and $160 million for energy rebates.
The state is paying to caulk, replace furnaces and boilers, and otherwise improve the energy efficiency of 500 households in Anchorage and 7,000 more in the rest of Alaska this year, Fauske said.
The municipality has been administering the weatherization services in Anchorage since 2007 and employs 17 people in the program who are paid through a state grant.
Continue reading: Anchorage opts out of home weatherization program
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, October 28, 2010:
The borough wants to know if geothermal energy can be captured in Fairbanks for large-scale power production.
A $1 million federal grant is available to help answer the question. But there’s a catch.
Whoever wins the grant must contribute a million dollars of their own.
The assembly on Thursday voted unanimously to hold a competitive process to distribute the grant.
The project must include modeling of a deep geothermal reservoir system or “hot zone” and drilling of a test well.
A successful grant recipient would also analyze and map the borehole and surface geology.
The goal is to determine whether sustainable heat flow can be maintained and whether potential exists for geothermal energy production in the borough.