FAIRBANKS — A look at election results in the Fairbanks North Star Borough shows that some of the strongest opponents of a failed measure aimed at improving air quality live in the smokiest areas.
North Pole and its surrounding areas have seen the smokiest winters. But the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Thursday that those same areas also were a stronghold against the proposition voters rejected in the municipal election Tuesday.
The proposition would have banned certain wood- and coal-fired heating devices in the core populated area and introduced regulations for wood burners. It was in response to an Environmental Protection Agency order giving Fairbanks until 2014 to improve its air quality by reducing levels of a toxic particulate produced by wood burning.
North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson said the vote reflected the community’s investment in wood- and coal-fired heaters and a desire to negotiate any attempt to clean the air in and near the city.
“There was a suspicion that the initiative is too broad and cuts too deep,” he said. “I believe everyone wants clean air, but this wasn’t the vehicle.”
The University West precinct, where smoky days keep Woodriver Elementary School students indoors during recess, offered moderately strong support for the initiative. In a place that has been a focal point for clean air proponents, 56 percent of voters said “yes.”