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State of Alaska and Fairbanks North Star Borough Receive $4 Million EPA Grant to Improve Air Quality in Fairbanks

05/02/2018
Contact Information: 
Suzanne Skadowski (skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov)
206-553-2160

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $4 million in Targeted Airshed Grants to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to help the Fairbanks North Star Borough improve air quality. Grant funds will be used to reduce harmful fine particle air pollution from wood smoke through a woodstove change-out program operated by the Borough.

“These grants will enable states and local agencies to improve air quality in areas most affected by air pollution,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is committed to supporting clean air projects that will reduce air pollution in nonattainment areas and enhance public health.”

“The state, the Borough and local leaders are making progress and air quality looks to be improving. There is still work to do to get to healthier air, and if we all keep working together, we’ll get there,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick. “EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant funding will further bolster the community's efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution and improve air quality in the Borough.”

“The Fairbanks North Star Borough and its residents have been making good progress towards meeting the national health standards.  An important part of their success has been the stove change-out program,” said Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig. “This much-needed funding from EPA assures the community will be able to continue replacing older, high polluting woodstoves with cleaner burning sources of heat for their homes and achieve healthier air for all.” 

“After working hard to increase funding for this program through the congressional appropriations process, I thank EPA for its prompt recognition of the continued need to address air quality issues in Fairbanks,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK). “EPA’s sustained commitment to Fairbanks will help local residents undertake projects that cut air pollution and result in cleaner, healthier air for everyone.”

“I welcome this grant announcement and am glad the EPA is taking seriously the need to work with and assist state and local governments to address the challenges of tackling the PM2.5 issue in the North Star Borough,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK). “Interior Alaska faces some of the most extreme temperatures in the nation and ensuring affordable and reliable ways for Alaskans to heat their homes during the winter and keep the lights on during prolonged darkness is extremely important. This grant announcement is a step in the right direction, but I hope we can continue to work together at the federal, state and local level to find creative solutions that will address the area’s air quality issues while not unnecessarily harming local residents and businesses.”

“I’m very pleased that the EPA is awarding Fairbanks this grant and supporting their transition to cleaner energy production,” said Rep. Don Young (AK). “Recently, a report found that Fairbanks has the worst fine particulate pollution in the U.S., and in a region with such extreme winter weather, residents need an adequate source of heat. Burning wood has historically been an excellent heat source, but now the risks are too high. This grant will help people in the Fairbanks region switch to cleaner sources of heat and breathe a little easier.”

“I very much appreciate EPA’s willingness to help fund our community’s upgrades to cleaner burning home heating devices. Everyone in the community would like cleaner air and this funding helps our citizens contribute to the solution in a cost-effective manner. This program is very popular and will provide real emission reductions.” said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel.

Background

The Borough will use the grant funds to continue a woodstove change-out program focused on converting more wood burning appliances to cleaner burning liquid or gas fueled heating appliances, which have a very low output of particulate pollution and higher fuel efficiency. Wood smoke contributes up to 60 to 80 percent of fine particle pollution levels measured in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The Borough’s woodstove conversion program will remove or convert an estimated 476 woodstove or other solid fuel-fired heating devices in the non-attainment area. Nearly 12,500 wood-burning devices are used in Fairbanks and approximately 1,260 homes still use solid fuel-fired heating appliances as a sole source of heat. The Borough also has funds available for residents who wish to upgrade to a cleaner burning wood or pellet device.

EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grants are used to support local clean air projects in areas facing the highest levels of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), commonly known as smog and soot. In the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress funded the grants at $30 million to reduce air pollution in nonattainment areas that the Agency determined were ranked as the top five most polluted areas relative to ozone, annual PM2.5, or 24-hour PM2.5 standards.

More information about the grants: https://www.epa.gov/air-and-radiation/2018-targeted-airshed-grant-recipients.

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Northwest Region 10 at: EPA Region 10.

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