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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized regulatory action on the State of Alaska’s current plan to reduce winter-time fine particulate matter (PM2.5)levels in the Fairbanks-North Star Borough which remain double the national, health-based standard.

Today’s announcement, which concludes the agency’s requirement to formally approve and/or disapprove elements of the plan, now serves as a blueprint for the state and borough as they develop a new plan to submit to the EPA in summer 2024.

EPA staff are working with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the borough to strengthen the disapproved elements of the current plan. For instance, while the EPA has formally disapproved the plan’s failure to require controls on stationary sources of sulfur dioxide – such as power plants — the agency’s Office of Research & Development has developed a new model which is being used by ADEC that could demonstrate that the SO2 from those sources do not contribute significantly to the region’s PM2.5 problem.

In January of this year, the EPA sought public comment on its proposal to approve and disapprove parts of the state’s current plan. After reviewing 160 comments, including new information from the state, the EPA re-evaluated several elements of the state’s plan it had proposed disapproving. For instance, after initially proposing to disapprove the state’s determination that requiring the use

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