From Alaska Dispatch, Wednesday, October 20, 2010:
The people of Fairbanks spoke loudly and clearly at the polls this year: They didn’t want government dictating to them what could come out of the smokestacks atop their homes.
Enforcing standards for clean-air for everyone, voters decided, reeked of socialism — that policy of ensuring the needs of the many trump the desire of the individual. It is not a popular political philosophy in these tea-party days, especially in Alaska where it has never been a very popular philosophy.
Fairbanks is, after all, the home of the late Joe Vogler, founder of the Alaskan Independence Party, who thought the whole of America too socialist almost 40 years ago when the federal bureaucracy was but a shadow of what it is today. So it came as no big surprise when Fairbanks voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative blocking a North Star Borough plan to fine people for polluting the air with woodsmoke.
Unfortunately, the end result of that vote is that people are likely to pollute the air with woodsmoke again this winter and borough officials are having a devil of a time trying to figure out what to do about it.
Continue reading: Clean air and the cost of freedom
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, October 26, 2010:
The students at Weller Elementary School initially had mixed emotions about the renewable energy project in their backyard because it caused some trees to be cleared outside their windows. But they seemed to have come around by last Thursday, when engineer Robbin Garber-Slaght gave an interactive presentation to about 100 fifth and sixth graders on the ins and outs of the ground source heat pump and solar thermal system installed in September.
“I learned that it was worth it to destroy the trees,” said fifth grader Chase Wagner. “It will help the school be green. I’m worried about the planet. It will cut down on oil and it will save money.”
Students showed their impressive knowledge of energy efficiency and power generation, as dozens of hands waved in the air to offer thoughts and ask questions in the school’s common area.
“That was a really fun group. They’re up on their science,” said Garber-Slaght of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, which collaborated with the school district and other contractors on the experimental project.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, October 20, 2010:
Several parents, teachers and other school staff members testified before the Fairbanks school board Tuesday to ask that the school district deal with air pollution, especially outside and inside Woodriver Elementary School.
Some said that the district needs to install air filters in the school because the smoke from two outdoor wood boilers close to the school is bad enough to create a cloud in the halls on many days. There have been dozens of complaints each of the past two winters to the borough because of the Woodriver smoke and on some days recess is canceled.
There were also concerns voiced about air quality in North Pole and in other parts of Fairbanks, such as near Randy Smith Middle School.
Other parents and grandparents said that the state Department of Environmental Conservation should be called upon to enforce state regulations to limit air pollution.
Continue reading: Parents ask school board to address air pollution at Woodriver
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, October 19, 2010:
There’s an obvious theme in the campaign for House District 10, and even the two candidates involved say it’s hard to overlook.
Both Democrat John Brown and Republican Steve Thompson say energy is the issue that contributes to most of the challenges that Fairbanks residents face. It costs too much to heat a home or business in the Interior, they agree, which in turn leads to barriers to job creation, employment and basic quality of life.
Brown and Thompson have heard it plenty when they talk to constituents in District 10, which includes east Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright.
“You’re knocking on doors, and people are saying ‘We’re moving, we can’t afford to live here anymore,’” Thompson said. “That’s not good.”
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, October 15, 2010:
The borough halted enforcement of new air quality rules — none had taken place yet anyway — and officials await a legal opinion about other aspects of the air quality program, which was diluted by the voters last week.
“There are a number of things that are going to have to change,” air quality director Glenn Miller said. “There will be an ordinance that will come forward in the near future that will address these changes.”
The vote approving Proposition A effectively ended rules about the types of wood stoves that can be installed in the borough and threw out fines that applied to smoke emissions and the burning of certain items, including tires, chemicals and animal carcasses.
Interior Alaska Green Star is pleased to let you all know about some NEW RECYCLING OPTIONS for the Fairbanks area!
K&K Recycling is now accepting all of the following materials for recycling:
- Glass Bottles – All colors
- All Plastics #1-7 (check number on bottom of container)
- Cardboard and Paper
Location: 2040 Richardson Highway ( 9 mile ) between Fairbanks & North Pole
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8 am – 5 pm
Some tips for preparing your materials for recycling
- Please rinse all bottles and cans and remove labels
- Please rinse all plastic containers
- Please NO containers with food waste
In addition, K&K asks that you help by doing the following:
- Monitor the recycling transfer site by only placing the proper material into the receptacles
- Tell a friend or co-worker about the importance of recycling & available locations
- Let them know if you’d like to be kept informed of upcoming locations or events by emailing email@example.com
- You can find more information on the K&K Recycling website: http://www.kandkrecycling.us/
Below is a statement from K&K Recycling about their new recycling programs:
Since 1984, K&K Recycling Inc. has been recycling in the interior of Alaska. In August, Fort Wainwright and K&K Recycling Inc. began a source separation recycling program to eliminate the waste stream by realizing it’s a resource stream of raw new materials waiting to be utilized by making new industry, product and local jobs.
As of October 3rd, UAF has also partnered with K&K Recycling Inc. by delivering their first load, over the upcoming weeks working agreements are expected to be finalized with Eielson AFB, Fort Greely and discussion with the FNSB Recycling Commission is ongoing.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, October 6, 2010:
Anyone worried about getting slapped with a home-heating fine can sleep a little easier.
Voters on Tuesday blocked the ability of Fairbanks North Star Borough managers to rely partly on fines as they implement a new pollution-prevention program.
Questions remain, however, over whether the ballot measure will clear state laws and exactly how the result — 60 percent of voters approved the measure — will take shape at the assembly’s desk.
Studies suggest Fairbanks’ chronic air pollution is due largely to older or less-efficient wood-fed home heating systems. The pollution-control program, approved narrowly by the Borough Assembly this summer, includes carrots and sticks: Incentives, including tax breaks, for trading up to more efficient systems and potential fines for the worst polluters.
Tuesday’s measure, born as a public initiative, directs local government to drop the second avenue, leaving incentives and public education plans in place. It does not, however, directly change local laws, leaving Mayor Luke Hopkins and the nine-member assembly the task of applying the mandate.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, September 17, 2010:
Large rolls of black tubing sat like super-sized balls of yarn next to the playground outside Weller Elementary School Wednesday. The sun shined brightly on the south-facing hillside, where a bulldozer carved out a 12-foot hole.
The balls, which are actually polyethylene ground loops, were then rolled out and buried in the ditch, where they will harvest heat from underground to use in the school during the winter. In the summer, six solar thermal panels soon to be mounted on the school will replenish heat to the earth through the same tubes. The system will not only reap savings on heat for the school district but also will test a technology that is young in Fairbanks.
“I would like to see a system that would work well in the Interior and that the public can utilize and save dollars,” said Larry Morris, projects manager for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
The project is an experiment to see how well the systems work in tandem and to collect data on ground source heat pumps, which are common in the Lower 48 but rare in Fairbanks.
“What we’re trying to do here is pair that system with a solar system that will recharge the heat you take out of the ground. In warmer climates, the sun can recharge how much you take out,” said Aaron Sirois, an engineer for PDC Engineering. “We were trying to come up with a solution that’s kind of adapted to Fairbanks.”
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, September 8, 2010:
The entrance of the garden at the Tanana Valley fairgrounds smelled like a minty fusion as about a dozen students harvested crops Tuesday afternoon.
“The spearmint needs to be weighed. The kale needs to be weighed,” said Sheryl Meirerotto, who teaches the eighth-grade class from Effie Kokrine that was busy digging, plucking and weighing vegetables.
The class will prepare a portion of the produce for a potlatch dinner during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in October.
The garden, which has existed for many years and has been managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the last two years, demonstrates how much can be grown in the Interior.
“The purpose of the garden is to represent the crops grown in the Tanana Valley. People don’t know we can grow things like corn,” said Jeff Werner, a UAF researcher and Alaska Future Farmers of America adviser.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 4, 2010:
The Fairbanks Rescue Mission celebrates the first anniversary of its recycling center today with a barbecue and open house starting at noon.
Executive director Rodney Gaskins will be available to guide things along. Visitors might get to check out the baler that compacts the cardboard, mixed papers and aluminum the center receives. One bale of cardboard can weigh 800 pounds, while a bale of mixed paper can weigh about 1,700 pounds.
“It’s a mark of success,” Gaskins said of reaching the one-year mark.
The center surpassed its millionth pound of recycled materials in July and expects to hit 1.5 million pounds by the end of this month. The recycled paper is sent to Anchorage to become insulation, and the aluminum stays in Fairbanks where it’s sold to C&R Pipe and Steel Inc.
So far, the program is paying for itself. “A nonprofit is mission-driven,” he said, “we’re successful whether we’re making money or not.”
The plan was for the Rescue Mission to take baby steps at least until it had one year under its belt. Now he believes the recycling center can take the next big step.
“We really wanted to start small,” Gaskins said.
As he put it: “Don’t start a restaurant until you have the capability of managing a hot dog stand really well.”
The center plans to expand in the near future by adding plastics to the list of materials that can be recycled but that can’t now because of insufficient storage space.
“For us, it means that we have been able to build a sustainable recycle program,” said John Lofquist, who works at the center. “It’s allowed Fairbanks to have a recycle option.”
The center will operate at its regular hours during today’s celebration; it will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.