17JUL09 My letter to the FNSB Mayor and Assembly, about furnaces.

Dear Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor and Assembly,

I a deeply concerned citizen, deeply concerned that I may soon be unable to live here do the onerous restrictions being IMPOSED on me and my family regarding air quality standards coming down from the EPA (standards made to be a 'one size fits all' mold that disregards the climate, terrain, and seasonal events unique to Interior Alaska, and I daresay many other counties, cities, and states across the nation as well).

Last year my fuel estimate for a pre-paid plan was near $8500.00 dollars in September. I had to cancel that plan and rely on the ability to go month to month due to the costs. I purchased a coal/wood/pellet outdoor furnace for $8200.00 (not counting the installation) to be able to reduce my need for fuel oil. Its only July, and already we are nearing the $3.00 a gallon cost for a gallon of fuel, I imagine that by winter it will be much worse. I cannot rely on fuel oil as a economical fuel source (unless I intend to starve my children and myself to do so). With coal maintaining a fairly steady cost per ton, and being surrounded by the renewable energy source that grows back time and again, along with with being able to purchase and use pellets, I believed I would be able to survive the with the furnace I purchased.

I believed it until I heard about discussions of changing the Vehicle IM program into a particulate control program that would severely restrict my ability to use my new furnace that I have invested in. If particulates are a concern, one needs to inform Mother Nature that the forest fires currently filling our Borough with particulates to the point of the EPA warning people to stay inside and shut windows (of which many of us cannot, we cant afford air conditioning) is unacceptable. If the Borough can enforce its regulation by going after the biggest polluter, Mother Nature, than maybe I might see this as somewhat 'reasonable'. However, since the EPA disregards the forest fires here in Alaska, and the particulates in the atmosphere filtering in from the fires in Siberia, any following of the EPA standards would be as flawed as the standards themselves.

Unless of course, you all work for the oil companies that would like nothing more than mandatory regulations requiring all residents to purchase their products, be it fuel oil, propane, or natural gas. Or maybe you work for PETA and seek to depopulate this state starting with me and my family by making it so that only the people who can afford it can remain here. I hope both these are ridiculous to you, and I do mean them in good jest, however its hard to laugh when you are as stressed as I am about just making ends meet.

My wife and I both work very hard, and are still struggling just to survive; and she's a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, not exactly a mundane job with a low salary. We live in a five star rated (based on Lower 48 construction standards...) 1776 square foot home and have two children and are hoping we can afford more. We have insulated to the point of budgeting at least $200.00 annually to the materials (6 mil thickness clear plastic, insulation strips, double sided tape, etc...) for all the doors and windows, along with not using the garage. Every step was taken to reduce costs, yet we barely scrapped by. We are down, and you have the audacity to kick us while we are trying to recover.

I know I am not alone in this regard. I know very well there are families vacating this area, some just abandoning homes. Some are just getting ready to face your employees who will come to their doors if you pass such regulation. We are in a crisis nationally, people have few places to turn to, and the economic hardships they face may cause them to act in desperation across the country, especially when faced with -40 degree temperatures. Such desperation could possibly lead to armed rebellion if the governments do not come to grips the reality of the average person who is struggling to merely exist. By restricting the ability of an Alaskan to heat his home, you threaten his very livelihood. If its not politically popular to leave him alone, then maybe you should accept the un-popular decision of supporting him by very simply leaving him alone. Actions that threaten another human beings home and livelihood based on junk science or one size fits all EPA regulations moves into the realm of violating basic Human Rights. When governments refuse to acknowledge that, they invite the spirit of discord, and open rebellion.

This is exactly how I feel. I am not a radical, I'm merely trying to ensure that my family can continue to live and work and be productive members of this community. If you make such onerous regulations, I'm positive my family and I can afford to just pick up and take our tax dollars to a completely different state. However, knowing this community, for every one of me who can leave, I know there are several who cannot, and more and more I hear the ideas of taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches. Why? Because its really starting to seem that nobody at any level of Government, be it National, State, or Local is listening to us.

Stop being 'policy makers' and 'rulers' and remember that you are Public Servants, and we the public are your masters.

Michael J. Sutherland

So far, I've only got two responses back, from Tammie Wilson and Tim Beck on the Borough Assembly. I sent this 08JUL09.

Here is Tammie's response:
"Dear Michael,

Thank you for your letter. I to am concerned that we will negatively impact not just our residents but our businesses. I truly believe that our course of action should be to work with the state in getting a gas pipeline or affordable electric. I appreciate you taking out your time to explain your personal circumstances and how this resolution will affect you and your family.

Tammie Wilson"

Here is Tim Beck's respons:
"Michael Thank you for your comments. Tim Beck"

For the record, Tammie will have my vote from now on!

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