Murkowski Welcomes EPA Grant to Alaska to Improve Air Quality

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) applauded news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $14.7 million to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to help improve air quality in Fairbanks. A portion of the Fairbanks North Star Borough is currently designated as a PM2.5 non-attainment area, with wood stoves serving as a major contributor to non-attainment. The funding, which is part of the EPA’s Targeted Airshed grant program, will be used to continue a wood stove change out and conversion program to help reduce air pollution.

“For many Alaskan communities, burning wood is the most affordable option to stay warm. Unfortunately, older, inefficient heaters contribute to local air pollution and negatively impact public health. I worked hard to ensure that Fairbanks was eligible for this funding and have worked year-after-year to ensure that the program continues. There is still work to be done, but this funding from the EPA is good progress toward providing Alaskans with safer, more cost-effective home heating options. I commend the EPA for directing these much-needed funds to Alaska and thank Region 10 Administrator Hladick for understanding Alaskans’ unique challenges,” said Senator Murkowski.

Background: Senator Murkowski has long worked to ensure the EPA provides grant assistance to the Fairbanks North Star Borough to meet new particulate matter standards (PM 2.5) for air quality. Senator Murkowski previously secured an amendment to modify the Targeted Airshed grant program so that communities like Fairbanks, where wood stoves have been a major reason for not meeting air quality standards, could qualify for federal aid. Most recently, as Chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski increased funding for the program for Fiscal Year 2020. Senator Murkowski has also cosponsored bipartisan legislation, the Wood Heater Emissions Reduction Act, to create a dedicated grant program at EPA to support transitions to cleaner-burning heat sources.

Related Issues: Health, Energy