Fairbanks Assembly considers Climate Action Plan that was rejected by former Assembly majority

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On Thursday, the FNSB Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will take up the Climate Action Plan — the same plan that was rejected 9-0 by last year’s assembly. 

The plan represents a major shift in how policy is undertaken in the borough, placing the health of the ecosystem over the needs of residents, and will become the guiding principle of the policy if it is adopted. 

The document blames wildfires on climate change, rather than mismanagement of forest assets. 

The document blames the lack of fish on climate change, rather than trawler by-catch, particularly in area M. 

It places “scientific consensus,” over actual science. 

It calls for reducing carbon fuels (coal, natural gas, fossil fuels) in one of the harshest environments for humans in North America.

The plan calls for policy solutions that have nothing to do with climate change, and abrogates the power of the people in favor of activist organizations. 

It calls for hiring at least two new positions and diverts staff time to activities based on climate change. 

You can read more about the plan at this link.

 The public may testify by phone or in person.  Please call ahead of time to get your testimony number 907-459-1401  

The plan is largely work guided by Assemblywoman Mindy O’Neal, who is the executive director of the Cold Climate Research Center.  As the executive director, she directly benefits from this management plan, as her salary is directly tied to the viability of the center. O’Neal has a financial interest in this plan passing. The CCRC is mentioned several times in the document as a “community partner.”  Critics have asked why she is using her Assembly seat to further her own goals and securing her “seat at the table” once her term is up next year.

The plan claims to be a community driven plan, but critics ask, “what community?” Less than 1% of the population of the borough had an opportunity to become aware of  this plan. The plan’s promotion was largely confined to the City of Fairbanks and the University area, while two-thirds of the borough’s population lives outside the city of Fairbanks and did not have an opportunity to even be aware of the plan. Most of the borough has poor internet access and many areas like Salcha, Fox, and Two Rivers have limited access.

The plan calls for climate issues to be the governing concept in planning, platting, roads, trails, and other areas where the borough undertakes planning. Trails will be governed by the ecosystem, land use will be governed by the ecosystem, roads will be governed by the ecosystem-land use and zoning by the ecosystem, and the ramifications of this policy shift is enormous. 
Instead of government by the people and for the people, it becomes government for the environment and government cronies.  

Other examples include:

In appendix C p. 14, the Climate Action Plan calls for consolidation of Road Service Areas because it is “more efficient.” There appears to be no justification or support for demonstrating that consolidating Road Service Areas has any impact on the climate. 
The plan calls for monitoring and collecting data Green House Gases by sector. Thus, the business will be monitored as well as homeowners. This seems quite intrusive and is way beyond the powers of a second-class borough. This is simply to violate the privacy of every borough resident. 

On page 19 of Appendix C, the plan calls for “greater collaboration” with Community Based Organizations, such as the one that O’Neal runs. “Partnering” is code for “taking over the function.” In other words, environmental NGOs will take over borough functions. This means elected borough government will no longer be in charge of policy, because policy will be driven by these community-based organizations.

In Appendix C page 24, the plan calls for encouraging denser economic development to reduce vehicle emissions. Critics say that people don’t move to Alaska to live in a city like Hong Kong. They came to have their “spread” of the woods and live in a particular lifestyle. This spreads out PM 2.5 and other emissions, and stops concentrated emissions. But the Climate Action Plan states that the new development goal of the FNSB is to encourage urban density- which would presumably halt any development outside the urban core of Fairbanks and limit the amount of land a person could own. 

Under this plan (p 61), each subdivision will have only through streets; all streets will be through streets. If the recent road plan testimony was instructive, residents who live in some areas were clear that having through streets would erode the integrity of their neighborhood; several hours of testimony on this issue made it clear that neighborhood integrity is valued by residents. If all subdivisions have to have a secondary egress, whose home is going to be razed to make that policy?  

Then there is the push for electric vehicles that is in the plan. The belief is that using coal or a diesel generator to generate electricity to charge a car is more efficient than a gas engine. Most of the fire stations are not equipped to deal with a fire from an electric car.  

38 COMMENTS

  1. So, in the winter if a neighbor can smell smoke from your stove the gestapo will descend upon your home, but in the summer when smoke is so thick that you must drive with lights on, that’s okay because it is natural (or from a planned fire). Will people ever wake up? Are so many people so detached from reality that they will believe this drivel? Who voted this self-serving power-hungry narcissistic fool into office? Elections have consequences and we usually get the delusional sociopaths that our failing society deserves. Study Caligula. We fast approach those times.

  2. Climate wackos on the Assembly hold the majority for now. Three new conservatives this fall, plus a new mayor other than Grier Hopkins, will once again kill this flawed and expensive climate action agenda. The Democrats have no concept of rationality.

      • True, MA. Grier Hopkins is a bigger climate freak than his old man was. And being the bro-in-law of Scott Kendall makes the mayor’s election nefarious from the get go. Rather than “give,” Fairbanks has to fight back these deranged climate kooks. And this is an excellent time to fight.

        • Grier Hopkins wants to outlaw woodburning stoves just like his bumbling old man did when he was mayor. All in the name of man caused climate change. Meanwhile, the folks in Fairbanks are currently gagging on dirty air caused by nature ……..forestfires,…. the same wood that the folks use to keep warm in -40°.

  3. The health of residents go hand in hand with the health of the ecosystem particularly at Fairbanks Airport which has PFAS in the groundwater from the Fire Training Pit. This stuff spreads all over, particularly in this alluvial floodplain directly connected to many wells. The irony is being responsible stewards of the environment is far less costly than unrestricted development.

    • Frank, if you know anything about Fairbanks and North Pole you must know the air quality is horrible. The closer you live to the core areas the worse the air pollution. This ‘plan’ encourages development in the core areas. How many more will die of heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc. due to their exposure to bad air?

      • How many will die of old age? Check the percentages. Bad Air? There are more problems with wild fires than wood stoves concerning the Fairbanks air. How did some of the older Fairbanks residents live there so long. Worry more about cloud seeding with microplastics then the wood stoves in Fairbanks.

    • You nailed it Frank ! Government is killing us by poisoning the water near airports and fire training facilities . Not to mention what’s coming down the flood plain from North Pole refinery’s . So bad in moose Creek , had to put water system in . Stewards are not being held accountable in either water quality or air quality .

  4. Even Ketchikan, without any economics other that government payrolls and public doles, is slipping into the “Sing and Dance in tight pants”, but nothing yet, as wild as Anchorage and now Fairbanks.
    Tragic, glad I don’t reside in either. Cheers.

  5. Anchorage/Fairbanks = a race to the toilet. Drove through Anchorage (never spend a nickel there), their new bike lanes are totally inept, embarrassing, and just a joke. Driving in from Wasilla you notice the decay once you hit Muldoon and it just doesn’t go away.

  6. The climate action plan that the FNSB Assembly will consider on June 27 is NOT the same plan that was rejected by the Assembly in 2023. Terry Chapin, the primary author of the new plan, explained the process in a Community Perspective published by the Fairbanks News-Miner: “The [2023] plan was unanimously rejected by the Assembly in 2023 because some assembly members objected to the changes made by the second committee, and others didn’t think Fairbanks needed a climate plan.

    As a member of both committees, I am familiar with the perspectives and concerns of both climate-action committees. After the Assembly rejected the climate plan in 2023, I drafted an integrated version of the plan that built on the wording and points of agreement of the two climate committees. I was careful to include only those goals and recommendations that had gone through the FNSB formal planning process and had been approved by one or both of the climate committees. I then sent this integrated version of the plan to the borough mayor, the chairs of the original and reconstituted climate committees, and the contractor that had initially drafted the plan. I incorporated their input and sent the resulting draft to Mindy O’Neill, the original and current sponsor of the plan. She finalized the version that will be introduced for public input and a vote by the Assembly on June 27. I am convinced that a climate plan is important for Fairbanks. Because the current plan reflects the major aspirations of both FNSB climate-planning committees, I am optimistic that it will be acceptable to a broad political spectrum of Fairbanks residents.”

    • Some good information, SA. Just wondering exactly when borough residents voted for Terry Chapin to make sweeping, life altering rules for our borough. The fact is, most FNSB residents don’t want a climate action plan put in place, and most don’t even agree with the existence of a climate action commitee. This plan, full of completely absurd, unworkable demands from climate extremists will eventually go the way of the recent dishonest, underhanded attempt to remove the property tax cap.

    • SA,
      Does your new, reconstituted climate plan include telling Mother Nature, the sun, and God to submit comments for consideration by the Assembly?

  7. This article points out some of the many, obvious flaws to this scheme as well as the possibility of self interest by one assembly member.

    The major failing here is that this plan does nothing to deal with, or recognize, that CO2 emissions are a global problem. Today, like most days, 200,000 humans were added to an already over populated planet. The billions of poor people are not going to spend more money to reduce CO2 emissions.

    Of some value is that those on the assembly that vote for this nonsense will be targeted for replacement. Voters recently rejected the scheme of this assembly to raise taxes. Voters are paying attention and those who want higher taxes and a higher cost of living are going to be vote out.

    Last, a second class borough only has the authority that the voters allow. The voters in the FNSB have never given their consent for the borough to take on climate change. For the FNSB to do so would invite a court challenge.

    • Interestingly, it turns out that FNSB Presiding Officer Savannah Fletcher is running for State Senate. ‘https://www.savannahformayor.com/ Wonder how she will vote…

    • M–note that the FNSB Assembly members who initiated the committee that worked on the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) were all elected to their positions. The voters DID vote them into their positions.

      • SA, No, no, no. That’s not how it works. Here’s Alaska Statute:

        Section 29.35.210 – Second class borough powers
        (a) A second class borough may by ordinance exercise the following powers on a nonareawide basis:

        Without regard to what someone says in a campaign, the voters must specifically grant approval, and the things the voters can allow are specified in Alaska Statute. Nowhere does Alaska statute allow for a second class borough to take on ‘climate change’- even with voter permission. Voters have never, ever voted on this. So the FNSB would be in violation of Alaska law.

        Last, a warming Interior in the Winter actually has significant benefits, which reduces air pollution. In the old days we’d see weeks of minus 40. That doesn’t happen much anymore. With warmer winters, there is less air pollution- the type of particulate pollution that actually harms people.

        Why do you want Fairbanks and North Pole residents to breath dirty air, SA?

  8. I can tell for a fact that the fire out near Harding Lake on June 15th had a couple of Hot spots that looked like bon fires . I flew over it . The next few days , fully engulfed . I question why no resources on fire? BLM has huge resources at their control sitting at Ladd/Wainwright . Doesn’t make sense to me that it was not put out immediately. Two water scooping firebombers could have done it in an hour or two . On one hand they want to help the moose habitat and other prove we have a climate crises . The climate crises is mismanagement of huge BLM resources .

    Past Sunday the wind changed and Harding lake went to a 1/4 mile viability about 7pm . The Borough wants to declare climate change is causing this ? I call Bull Crap . They are totally misinformed and following an agenda that is not supported by facts .

    FNSB took all the wood stoves away in the interior ? I’ve never seen a 1/4 mile visibility caused from wood smoke from a stove or for that matter a 1000 wood stoves . No science and all bull crap . The fires out in the flats across the river have burned more wood in the last week than all the wood stoves twenty years ago in a full winter of wood burning combined .

    Now some climate folks are going to attack for these comments . Screw off as you folks are lying .

    No one working at the Fairbanks North Star Borough should even be talking about climate change . It a political opinion , not followed by science . Be more concerned about putting the damn fires out . That’s what Govt is supposed to do , protect safety and quality of life .

    I can tell you for a fact that the budgets for the firefighting aircraft has grown by ten fold in the last few years . Start protecting the people that live in Fbks and put damn fires out .

    • Dan–The FNSB Assembly has zero control over BLM. You are blaming the wrong entity for the smoke from the Clear and McDonald fires that are currently wreaking havoc with the air quality in the Borough.

      The proposed plan has an interesting chart on page 8 that shows the rapid increase of wildland fires due to climate change. I enthusiastically agree with you that BLM should be more aggressive in combating wild land fires, and if the Assembly passes the proposed plan, the Borough would have more credibility to force BLM to meet minimum air quality standards with better control over wildland fires.

      • SA, if the FNSB is anything like the Anchorage Assembly, I’ll wager that they believe they have total control over BLM.

    • Avenger–Tok, which is even colder than Fairbanks, has been running an electric school bus for the past four years. And Delta Junction, also colder than FBX, installed a charging station on the Richardson Highway last year. Electric vehicles do indeed work in the Interior, even at 40 below. The main problems are the cost of EVs compared to traditional vehicles, the lack of availability in Fairbanks, and the lack of enough charging stations that would enable residents to travel all over Alaska.

      • Well now SA, perhaps you would be kind enough to write an article about these EVs that are being used in the interior and provide receipts to back up what you are saying. Very interesting!

    • Juneau was suckered into buying a Proterra electric bus which was a lemon right out of the gate. The biggest question is why. There is no benefit to the environment and having techs on hand that can fix them is tough up here in the northern regions.

  9. Fairbanks needs a progressive Climate Change policy. The efforts of 32,500 people driving a few miles less per workday is bound to increase polar bear populations and economic advancements for minorities throughout the world. Apparently, the Fairbanks Assembly actually believes this.
    Even if there was any truth whatsoever to the alarmist view of Climate Change, China is pumping out CO2 like it’s no one’s business so taxing the fine residents of Fairbanks will not make a smidgen of difference. The Fairbanks Assembly is simply pushing their pagan beliefs on their citizens… but since they voted for these crazies, they deserve the consequences.

    • Lou–the proposed plan focuses on how the Fairbanks North Star Borough can adapt to the reality of climate change with a particular emphasis on how to protect its infrastructure in cost-effective ways. The infrastructure here includes roads, housing and businesses, home and business heating systems, etc. Climate change is very real in Fairbanks and we have been plagued in the last few years by our Borough’s inability to manage the problems such changes have caused to our homes, roads, and businesses.

    • Lou, you are singing to Grier Hopkin’s climate crisis choir. You think it’s bad now, wait until this loon gets into the Mayor’s office.

  10. We the folks that have lived in Fairbanks for the past 40+ years have truly dropped the ball by turning a blind eye. We have water that we should not drink SOLFLEAN from a refinery that ignored know points were ground water was being polluted (THE POUND) you that worked there know what i am talking about. The Firefighting industry and DuPont that pushed PFALCE laced foam and the failure of DEC /EPA to restrict the release of a known toxic chemical into the water Shead. The coal ash secret disposal into the ground water for 70 years from 4 power plants, and now we get a mining acid pound at the top of the water collum. O i have not talked about that we pay the highest cost for energy if we can even by it next winter GAS/ OIL shortages. We are the banana republic and if the folks that want to live here don’t take some kind of control measures to protect public health and the eco system than we are all going to have levee at some point because you won’t survive here. O crap I almost overlooked the air we beath and the FACT that its harming children and Senours PM 2.5 and the {VOC} Vollotal organic compounds. Sorry to say the proof is in the pudding. Bodapati

  11. Clearly a conflict of interest for Ms O’Neal, as she is the executive director of the cold climate research center. She directly benefits, and would not be surprised to find there are more on that list. This is not LA. Electric vehicles WILL NOT WORK HERE. PERIOD! How many ways must it be explained? And tell me, would you like children mining lithium as they do in 3rd world countries? Would you also like lithium leach fields in your backyard, as they are in Chile and Argentina??? Do you know the impact on the environment caused by such leach fields and green new deal solutions??? Now add What Mr. GIlbertson had to d=say about Fairbanks summer fires…spot on and oh so sad. From now on Fairbanks, GET OUT AND VOTE. Anchorage, too for that matter. GET OUT AND VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT…because it does.

  12. If like in so many instances scientists agreed on the subject of climate control I might take it more seriously, but they don’t. People who tout this message have not done their research. Alaska is NOT like so many other parts of the country. I remember a number of years ago when they tried to force a gasoline product on us that made some sick & even killed some.
    They are trying to push electric cars on us, like California where the grid can’t handle the current load so how do they intend to handle it when everyone is forced to have an electric car. Additionally they cause more pollutants to produce and the batteries are so costly to replace you might as well dump the vehicle.
    Studies show wood produces less pollutants than fossil fuels so why the constant arrack on wood burning. Then the point made about wildfires that happen every summer yet due to mismanagement of our forests are let burn out of control. The same is true with our fish & wildlife.
    I also object to Miss ONeal being involved when her paid position benefits from these policies if passed.

    • Pat–Consider checking out what the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) actually does before you comment that Mindy O’Neal should not serve on the Borough Assembly’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan committee. The CCHRC is primarily an educational resource on safe, efficient, and affordable housing in the far North. Their resources–including trainings–are free and funded through state and federal grants. The building itself is a model of how such housing can be built and maintained. Check it out: https://cchrc.org/

      As for the wood smoke problem…here in the Interior, we often get a a temperature inversion that traps wood smoke and other pollutants at ground level for days on end. The air quality on those days gets so bad that schools do not allow children to play outside at recess and even people who do not have respiratory problems wind up in the doctor’s office. It gets really bad in places the Borough has declared as Non-attainment zones.

  13. I oppose this climate all you climate change people will never see a dime from it’s a bunch of bs. If you don’t like Alaska move the f out of our state we don’t need you here so go back to California where you came from.

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