Group to fight wood-heating regulations

Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A group led by a North Pole legislator is putting together a ballot measure that would block Fairbanks from regulating wood or coal heating systems.

Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson says the group, called North Star Landowners, doesn't like a proposed air pollution prevention plan.

Wilson said the group hopes to draft final language for the measure by late March and has submitted forms to the Alaska Public Offices Commission to clear a path for fundraising. She said she hopes the measure can be on the October ballot.

"I believe it is a fundamental right of every person, and family, to heat their home, responsibly, with any natural resource available," Wilson said in a statement.

Borough officials in Fairbanks are considering a plan that would look at home heating practices in and around the city, but the proposal has spurred a lot of debate. Among the proposals are to establish a stove trade-in program encouraged by tax breaks and, perhaps most contentiously, use a registration system or fines to cut wood smoke pollution.

Air pollution specialists think that reducing the use of older and inefficient wood-fed heating systems could dramatically improve air quality in Fairbanks.

Wilson said the thought of potential fines for home heating is unacceptable, particularly for wood, an abundant and relatively cheap renewable resource.

"Excellent air quality is important and can be accomplished with alternative forms of energy and technological advancement," she said.

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