EPA announces procedural actions for Fairbanks borough air quality attainment
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 office announced two procedural actions being taken in relation to air quality in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The actions state that the EPA found the Fairbanks area had not met current air quality standards by December 31, 2019, as required by law.
The EPA is also denying the state's request to extend the attainment date to meet the standards for five more years. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requested the extension in their Serious State Implementation Plan they submitted in December.
Alice Edwards with the Alaska DEC says the actions were an expected part of the process.
"The action in the notice today (5/19) simply keeps us on the same path that we had talked with the public and others about last spring - which is that we will continue to implement the current air quality plan, and then work on an update that will show that we are reducing emissions 5% every year and bringing the area into attainment. [That's] due to the EPA in December of 2020,” said Edwards.
Edwards says the EPA is required to take these procedural steps. “We did not monitor attainment inside the nonattainment area, so that finding is expected. The denial of the extension request [was] also expected. It was a requirement of the serious plan that we put together last year, but we knew it would not meet all of the regulatory criteria that EPA would need to approve it,” said Edwards.
In a statement, EPA Region 10 said, “EPA has been supporting the work of the state and the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) to develop a state plan that can further the progress that’s already been made to improve the air in the FNSB.”