FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The National Academy of Sciences would be directed to study carbon monoxide buildups in the winter air around this Interior city under language added to an appropriation bill approved by a U.S. Senate committee.
Sen. Ted Stevens requested the language. The Alaska Republican said he wants the study to strengthen arguments that Fairbanks is a special case that doesn't warrant strict application of federal air quality standards.
The air in Fairbanks exceeds federal standards only once or twice a year, Stevens said. ''I hope they come to the conclusion that these occur because of natural conditions and are not permanent.''
The federal Environmental Protection Agency started an 18-month clock in April that could lead to sanctions against Fairbanks if the area does not come up with an acceptable plan to reduce its carbon monoxide concentrations.
Officials with the Fairbanks North Star Borough have said they're working on such a plan.
The study doesn't come with a price tag, at least at this point.
The bill containing the language -- the annual appropriations measure for the Veterans Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- still must pass the full Senate. It then will go to a conference committee with the House, where it could be changed.
A news release from Stevens' office said the National Academy of Sciences study should address the public health significance of carbon monoxide and offer ''strategies for managing rare non-attainment areas where cold air inversions occur, including Fairbanks.''
Other Alaska items in the appropriations bill:
--$2.2 million to the borough for water and sewer improvements.
--$750,000 to the city of Fairbanks for a mapping study of its storm drainage system to help comply with the EPA's ''non-point discharge elimination'' permit requirements.
--$5 million to fund a 3-year, $15 million cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation and the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
--Report language asking a federal housing technology program to continue research in cooperation with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center at Fairbanks.
--$2.5 million for a pilot training simulator at the University of Alaska. No campus or simulator type was specified in Stevens' news release.
--$270,000 for emergency shelter work, to go to the Fairbanks Hospitality House, a nonprofit program helping troubled youths.
--$35 million for the EPA's water and wastewater treatment plants in rural Alaska, a $5 million increase from earlier versions of the bill and from the current year's appropriation. An additional $20 million would come through the Department of Agriculture.
Both expenditures require a 25 percent match from the state, bringing the total for the coming federal fiscal year to $68.75 million.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.