Alaska really is different

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

The following editorial excerpt appeared Sunday in the Voice of The (Anchorage) Times:

These gorgeous autumn days, in which Mount McKinley in all its majesty can be seen in stunning splendor from as far away as Anchorage, are a reminder that the feds still don't understand that Alaska is not Kansas or any other state.

Sen. Ted Stevens once again is trying to get that through the heads on those who live and work in Washington, D.C. It's a never-ending battle. Washington officials largely have never understood that what applies in temperate American doesn't fit the mold of Arctic and sub-Arctic Alaska. Yet various administrative departments keep trying to force one-size-fits-all rules on Alaska.

Stevens' latest attempt to get the message through comes in an effort to tell Washington that air quality readings up here occasionally surpass federally mandated carbon monoxide levels because of the climate, not because of some kind of ill intent.

The EPA last April gave Fairbanks get the dictatorial tone of all of this an 18-month deadline to come up with an acceptable plan to reduce carbon monoxide levels. The penalties, no doubt, would include the loss of all kinds of federal matching funds, road dollars, and every other kind of goodie.

Stevens thinks the EPA order is hogwash and he wants the National Academy of Science to do studies to find out whether he's correct. He is. It's his conclusion, absent the study, that federal air quality standards are exceeded because of natural conditions, caused by air conversions during the extreme cold of Fairbanks' winters. To find out for sure, however, Stevens has added language to a bill thatwould direct that the study be conducted.

The measure still must pass the full Senate and the House, and then survive Bill Clinton's all-too-active veto pen.

But the battle is worth fighting. Alaska really is different.

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