Initiative seeks end to Fairbanks vehicle inspection program

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Supporters of an initiative to get rid of the Fairbanks North Star Borough vehicle inspection and maintenance program were issued petition books by the borough clerk Friday.

Initiative supporters will need 2,737 supporters to get the question on the Oct. 7 municipal ballot.

Proponent Merrick Peirce said the inspection and maintenance program is costly and onerous. He wants the borough to consider other options to comply with air quality regulations. Those include a ''beater buyback'' program purchasing older cars that are the biggest polluters or an information campaign encouraging use of low-sulfur gasoline.

Established in 1985, the inspection and maintenance program was the borough's solution for polluted air and threatened federal sanctions. Until the program was put in place, Fairbanks' levels of carbon monoxide regularly exceeded federal air quality limits.

Borough officials blame the pollution on winter temperature inversions, a weather phenomena in which polluted air, mostly from exhaust, is trapped near the ground.

Under the borough program, residents must have their vehicles' emissions systems inspected every other year at an average cost of $65. Residents whose vehicles do not pass inspection must pay for repairs.

Glenn Miller, manager of the program, says it's the most cost-effective clean air program the borough can implement. If voters force the borough to drop the program, another entity, such as the state, would probably take it over or the federal government would issue sanctions, he said.

Initiative sponsors plan to gather signatures at the Tanana Valley State Fair, which runs through Aug. 9.

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