- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Fairbanks North Star Borough voters have rejected a measure to continue banning borough government from regulating air pollution.

A final tally of nearly 1,500 absentee and questioned ballots, counted on Tuesday, extended the lead for “no” votes. The final vote was 5,825 “no” and 5,470 “yes.”

That means, for the first time since 2010, the borough will have the ability to create regulations that could cut back on wintertime air pollution from wood stoves and other sources, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/1wGK1p6).

Clean-air advocate Patrice Lee called it a step in the right direction.

The Fairbanks area in winter months is regularly out of compliance with federal air standards because of particulate emitted from wood burned by people trying use an alternative to expensive home heating oil.

Supporters of the ban on borough regulation argued that the borough should focus on voluntary efforts and leave regulation to the state. Voters approved the ban in 2010 and 2012.

It’s not yet clear what steps the borough may take next. At last week’s assembly meeting, Assemblyman John Davies urged a cautious approach. He noted that the borough recently approved new voluntary measures and said it’s important to gauge their impact.

But Davies also said the borough needs to do something.

“We need to start looking at solving that problem, and we need to take a much more active role,” he said.

The election will be certified later this month.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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