The Burn Bans: Clearing the air

Published: Mar. 28, 2018 at 8:12 PM AKDT
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In part 2 of the three part series discussing the effects of this Winter's burn bans, Mayor Karl Kassel responds to the concerns of North Pole residents. Amanda Brennan reports.

Mayor Karl Kassel; FNSB>>: "Around the country there's been many communities, I don't even know the total, more than 50 communities around the country that have had to deal with this issue. Those that have reached attainment, every single one of them has had to require just flat, a burn ban to make it work."

Amanda Brennan; Reporting>>: The Stage 1 and Stage 2 burn bans that were in effect this Winter are a result of the air quality degenerating to such a degree that the E-P-A upgraded the non-attainment area from moderate to a serious degeneration Borough Mayor, Kassel says the inaction due to voter initiatives did not help improve air quality.

Mayor Karl Kassel; FNSB>>: "We did not engaged early on, and we took four years and did nothing because of voter initiatives. And because we didn't do anything about it for so long the air got significantly worse and the levels pushed us into serious non-attainment, and with that there are many more regulations that get wratched up on top of us from the EPA. "

Amanda Brennan; Reporting>>: With the increase in regulations, one of the major concerns residents have is that the borough is overreaching its authority when monitoring the output of people's smoke stacks.

Mayor Karl Kassel; FNSB>>: "We're driving on public roads that are public right of ways and, and we're going around when there is a stage two alert and people are not supposed to be burning and if we see smoke coming out of a smoke stack coming out of somebody's home, they are obviously violating the code. We don't want to be fining people. I am doing everything in my power to ensure we're not writing citations and fining people. That doesn't clean up the air. I'm interested in cleaning up the air."

Amanda Brennan; Reporting>>: Regarding another perceived overreach of the borough with the large amount of information required for the NOASH waivers, Kassel says that is the result of tighter regulations by the EPA.

Mayor Karl Kassel; FNSB>>: "They've been pretty cooperative, I have to day. I mean, they've put their foot down when they have things that they can't change or modify because of the clean air act. "

Amanda Brennan; Reporting>>: Kassel says that when implementing sweeping regulations, it always takes time to educate the public. He noted that out of the amount of people contacted by the Air Quality office, roughly 80 percent were cooperative and were able to work out their issues.

Mayor Karl Kassel; FNSB>>: "Our favorite motto is playing well in the sand box. You don't get anything accomplished or move forward if you're not looking for a solution."

Amanda Brennan; Reporting>>: Tomorrow, we ride along with the borough Air Quality Manager to discuss how the air is monitored, and how people can navigate the FNSB Air Quality Division website to be more well informed. Amanda Brennan reporting.