EPA moves to punish Alaskans for burning wood to heat their homes


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

We’re here to help you! The EPA is about to declare Alaska in violation of the Clean Air Act for burning wood, the only fuel available to them to heat their homes, and thus threaten the state with the loss of all federal funding.

The New York Times reports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.

Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.That prompted state and local authorities to look for ways to cut down on pollution from wood-burning stoves, including the possibility of fining residents who burn wood. After all, a declaration of noncompliance from the EPA would have enormous economic implications for the region, like the loss of federal transportation funding.

The problem is, there’s no replacement for wood-burning stoves in Alaska’s interior. Heating oil is too expensive for a lot of people, and natural gas isn’t available. So they’ve got to burn something. The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove—and you keep that fire lit around the clock.

The level of stupidity here by EPA’s Washington bureaucrats is almost beyond measure. Worse, they and their liberal supporters still have no idea why it appears a Trump administration might be dismantling much of that EPA bureaucracy.

Share

9 comments

  • Cotour

    Burning wood, especially in Alaska where the population density in relation to square miles is probably the lowest in the country is an example of using a totally renewable and I would think very close to zero carbon impact resource.

    This administration just can not help itself, but I am sure its just part of the package to reshape “fundamentally” the American model to a more acceptable communal model. You WILL all come to heel!

    Lies and deceit piled upon unlimited BS, everything they do is 180 degrees counter to the interests of Americans. The dismantling hopefully begins in 22 days.

  • LocalFluff

    Reading this kind of crazy stuff makes me feel so happy thinking about Scott Pruitt as minister of the EPA. PEOTUS couldn’t have made a better pick to scare and humiliate those bureaucrats and tell them that they might need to look for some real jobs. Expect something else than wood be fired next.

  • Jim Jakoubek

    Cotour –

    The population of Alaska is around 800,000 people.

    The state of Alaska, the biggest state in the Union, is roughly four times the size of Texas.

    Considering these two facts, I have to agree the so-called “carbon-footprint” here will be minimal and
    I also hope that once DJT is in office he looks at crap like this and cleans house.

    Personally, I’m thinking that the next “footprint” coming to the EPA will have the shape of Trumps
    shoe on the rear ends of these jackasses. Hoping anyway.

  • ken anthony

    If we could just get rid of humans the universe would be in perfect harmony!

    Sanity is so over rated.

  • To paraphrase Andrew Jackson: ‘They have ruled, now let them enforce.’

  • Edward

    1) The opening of the article demonstrates the danger of having a central bureaucracy setting local policy from the warmth and comfort of their plush, temperature-regulated, HEPA-filtered, metropolitan offices.

    2) The requirements that Alaska has to comply with assume that asthmatics in metropolitan areas would suffer due to the particulates. Instead, the people who live downwind in those areas are non-existent. Downwind it the wilderness. As noted, the big cities in Alaska are considered to be towns in the rest of America.

    3) The air quality requirements that the EPA puts on my region is violated by the output of the local trees. Especially the trees that, ironically, Jack London himself imported from Australia.

    Yes, trees give off all kinds of pollutants, from pollens to volatile oils, as Jack London’s eucalyptus trees do. Oh, and like all other life, trees give off CO2 at night — which the brainiacs at the EPA recently declared a pollutant.

    Another irony is that in order to comply with the EPA’s requirements, my area would have to destroy a great deal of the environment that the EPA was created to protect.

    I disagree with Robert. The stupidity coming from the EPA is already beyond measure. In fact, it is beyond immeasurable. They are even the greatest polluters in America, what with their recent dumps of toxicity into our western rivers.

    This is yet another governmental attempt at good intentions. Once again, it has put us on the road to hell, and we have arrived (except that, for Alaska, it is a cold day). Abandon all hope, except for the hope that the EPA will soon meet its demise (preferably before the rest of use do).

    The sooner this idiotic, unpatriotic, anti-American, (literally) toxic agency of the devil is disbanded the better.

  • wayne

    Edward–
    interesting stuff.
    >Richard Nixon gave us the EPA.

    In Michigan, the Lake Michigan shoreline area regularly exceeds EPA limits for ozone & particulate, and EPA has been targeting local sources, although we have relatively few point sources that could be responsible.
    >Gigantic lawsuit has been going on for 15+ years. Includes EPA, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and a long list of private industry.
    The thing is— we get blow-over from Wisconsin, Chicago, and a BP oil refinery in Indiana, but EPA wants to hold Michigan 100% responsible for our “chronic non-compliance.” And that plays out in heavy fines for business in the wrong zip-code in Michigan.

  • Edward

    wayne noted: “The thing is— we get blow-over from Wisconsin, Chicago, and a BP oil refinery in Indiana

    California gets blow-over from China. Every time my area has met the onerous EPA standards, they went ahead and tightened the standards. They are now un-meet-able. What the hell was all that expense and effort for, if we were just going to get screwed yet again?

    Here to help? Hah!

    Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, you are shameless.

  • Garry

    One of the problems is that the powers that be expect perfection, as though all pollutants are man-made and nature itself is pristine, yet very fragile when man comes along and pollutes.

    In our area, sewage plants have to be upgraded to meet more stringent standards that are completely unnecessary, costing each town 10’s of millions of taxpayer dollars that could otherwise stay in taxpayers’ pockets.

    Like many bureaucracies, the EPA goes to great lengths to find new missions so that it isn’t diminished. In the big picture, the EPA has been wildly successful since its inception, cleaning up air, water, and soil considerably nationwide; overall, I’d say mission accomplished, so it’s time to scale down.

    Does anyone know of a good summary of the status of pollution in the US since Nixon launched the EPA? I think a well-publicized summary could be a good first step in greatly diminishing the EPA’s mission and size.

    Just in my area, the improvements are obvious and dramatic since I grew up in the 70’s; my kids don’t believe me when I tell them we used to have air pollution alerts when I was a kid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *