On bad air days in winter in the community of Butte, residents are asked to delay outside burning. Tuesday night, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly voted 4 to 3 to put this request into regulation.
The resolution adopted by the Assembly states “WHEREAS, the Mat-Su Borough wants to protect residents’ way of life including their right to heat their homes with wood; and WHEREAS, the legislation does not regulate wood stoves or other heat sources.”
For 1.5 hours, several residents gave their three minutes of testimony before the Assembly considered the legislation. Assembly Members Jim Sykes, Dan Mayfield, Tamara Boeve, and Deputy Mayor Matthew Beck voted Yes. Assembly Members George McKee, Ted Leonard, and Jesse Sumner voted No.
In winter, during a few days a year in Butte, an inversion layer prevents air flow and can trap smoke. Under the new rules, a resident could be cited and pay $150 for a first offense of burning outside in winter on a static air day in Butte. Outside burning includes tree debris in slash piles and trash in burn barrels.
The legislation’s intent is to prevent Butte’s air quality from exceeding national standards that would trigger federal regulation and expensive mandated programs.
Other elements in the approved legislation include creating a Butte Air Quality District and updating a Memorandum of Understanding between the Borough and the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation for air quality coordination. In this new MOU, it is stated that the Borough does not have the authority to regulate wood stoves of residents.
Listen to the complete discussion and the vote here on the Assembly March 5 agenda web page. Read the legislation as proposed here also at this link:
Photos of Mat-Su Borough Assembly by Mat-Su Borough Public Affairs, Stefan Hinman.