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DEC seeking information and other feedback from the community on Preliminary Draft Documents for Fairbanks North Star Borough Nonattainment Area

For immediate release—March 22, 2018

Contact: Cindy Heil, Program Manager, Division of Air Quality, 907-269-7579 cindy.heil@alaska.gov

Juneau, AK—The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Air Quality has elected to use an informal process to collect additional information and feedback from the local community on several preliminary draft documents being developed as part of the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air quality planning process. The information and analyses in these documents, when complete, will be used in preparing a draft State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) Serious Nonattainment Area. That draft plan will go out for formal public review and comment in late 2018.

“DEC understands the importance of the SIP to Borough residents since it will be the main plan for bringing the area into compliance with EPA’s health based standards for PM2.5. We are adding this extra step of providing an informal preview for local input while the plan is still in the preliminary draft stage,” said Denise Koch, Director of Air Quality. “We believe it is important to give the community this opportunity to see and supplement the information we are using for our initial analysis of different potential options to improve air quality.”

“The state is federally required to look at all options used for reducing PM2.5 in any area of the country, even if we think certain options will ultimately be discarded for the Fairbanks non-attainment area because of cost, technical feasibility or other reasons consistent with federal law,” Koch continued. “As we work to fully and fairly assess the full range of options, we are seeking help from the public, utilities and other businesses to make sure we have complete and accurate information and are not missing any important points. Not all of these options will be included in the draft or final SIP, and the feedback we receive will help decide which of these options or if alternative options appear best for the FNSB and make it to the next step in the process.”

The need for drafting a new SIP was triggered when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reclassified the FNSB PM2.5 nonattainment area from a Moderate to a Serious Area as of June 9, 2017. Federal law required this reclassification when the area failed to attain the PM2.5 air quality standard by December 31, 2015. The updated plan must include additional requirements that can be implemented to improve air quality. When the final draft SIP is released in late 2018, DEC will initiate a formal public review process that will provide another opportunity to comment before the plan is finalized.

Preliminary drafts released for review are listed below, and include both documents required by the EPA for a Serious Area SIP, as well as supporting materials:

  1. Preliminary Draft Concepts and Approaches
  2. Preliminary Draft Baseline Emission Inventory
  3. Preliminary Draft Technical Analysis Protocol (TAP) which also includes:
    1. Preliminary Draft Modeling Protocol
  4. Preliminary Draft Precursor Demonstrations
  5. Preliminary Draft Best Available Control Technology (BACT)/Most Stringent Measure (MSM) Analysis for Stationary Sources in the affected area.
  6. Preliminary Draft Best Available Control Measure (BACM) Analysis for sources in the affected area.
  7. Preliminary Draft report of “Residential Fuel Expenditure Assessment of a Transition to Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil for the Fairbanks PM-2.5 Serious Nonattainment Area”

View the preliminary drafts

The best way the community can help DEC at this point is to review these draft documents and provide specific information or points they believe have been missed and whose consideration will improve the technical, control feasibility, and economic analyses needed for the SIP. Additional information may be submitted to: dec.air.comment@alaska.gov until May 23, 2018.

"The FNSB has been working closely with DEC to find ways to improve air quality, and the air quality in the nonattainment area has improved significantly as a result of the Borough’s efforts,” said Koch. “Although additional work needs to be done to get the area into compliance with national health-based air quality standards, DEC is confident that additional measures can further improve air quality.”

The FNSB is assisting this effort by hosting a joint meeting of the FNSB assembly, City of Fairbanks council, and City of North Pole council on April 3, 2018 at the Borough Assembly Chambers to provide an opportunity to hear more about these preliminary drafts and the on-going SIP planning process.

Note: preliminary review drafts are outside the formal public review process and therefore, there will be no formal responsiveness summary or public hearing. Substantive information received may be included in the appendices, final drafts and cited where appropriate.