Winter is coming: Young, Sullivan win on bill for rural generators - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 18, 2019
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Winter is coming: Young, Sullivan win on bill for rural generators

ALASKA VILLAGES GET EXEMPTION FROM EPA RULES

The U.S. House of Representatives this week unanimously passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and Alaska Congressman Don Young, easing stringent Environmental Protection Agency emission regulations for generators in remote Alaska communities.

The legislation, heading to the president’s desk for his signature, paves the way for more affordable and reliable power for rural Alaska and may prevent a life-threatening crisis.

S. 163, the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act was cosponsored by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski.

“Currently, rural communities in Alaska that are isolated from the power grid are subject to a federal regulation that just doesn’t work for them,” said Sullivan. “This bill changes that, and is a huge step forward in ensuring rural Alaskans have access to safe and reliable electricity without having to bear the burden of expensive costs or worry about whether the heat and lights will stay on. I urge the EPA to quickly implement these new standards so that rural Alaskans can power and heat their homes in the coming winter months.”

“New generators are very costly, and families shouldn’t be burdened by an arbitrary ban made by EPA bureaucrats four thousand miles away,” Young said. “Many Alaskans depend on diesel generators to heat their homes, run their appliances, and keep their lights on, and Washington D.C. shouldn’t be getting in the way of their everyday lives. I am proud to have worked with Senator Sullivan on this issue that affects so many rural families. I have been working on a legislative solution in the House for quite some time, and pleased to see this critical bill finally reach the finish line.”  

In remote areas of Alaska, nearly 100 percent of the electricity used in villages is supplied by diesel fuel. Villages rely on diesel generators that are between 10 and 30 years old. These systems do not last forever and many small utilities are looking for ways they can purchase new generator sets to improve efficiency and reduce the maintenance costs of worn out engines. Under the current regulations, which set specific standards for diesel generators in “remote Alaska,” all new generator sets that are not connected to the federal highway system must install certain emissions controls on their new engines.

Credible reports indicate these emission control technologies are having difficulties working in remote areas of Alaska. If anything goes wrong with certain control devices, the generator shuts down. Only a factory-trained service technician with the proper codes can fix the problem.

In remote Alaska, those technicians are at least one to two days away and extremely expensive. It is not uncommon, especially in the fall and winter, for villages to be without flights due to weather or extreme cold for multiple days or weeks. If a failure in the powerhouse occurs during one of these times, the village could suffer significant damage to its infrastructure and potentially lead to the loss of life.

Congressman Young sponsored H.R. 422, companion legislation to S. 136.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • When you, as a free and private citizen, exercising your right to ‘choose’ and ‘decide’ to personally live in a remote Alaskan community, where costs are obviously higher than urban communities … Why is it the responsibility of the common taxpayer to subsidize your lifestyle?

    If the Federal Agency (ie – EPA) is responsible for establishing the regulations are doing so ‘arbitrarily’ and their fundamental foundation is ‘bureaucratic’ no doubt making other arbitrary and bureaucratic decisions costing Billions of dollars … Then, why isn’t there a major push to fix the Agency?

    Where are the Native Corporations, why aren’t they stepping ‘up’ and stepping ‘in’ to enhance their communities and take care of their own?

  • I think this is great legislation for Alaskans, all Alaskans. But I cannot resist commenting that we don’t hear anything about carbon footprints, global warming, increased hurricanes and starving white bears unless the hair shirt will be worn by Republicans, miners, loggers and the like. How do the left-leaning school teachers explain this to their students, especially the striking students?

    • I think the Democrats are just as guilty as the Republicans. There’s an awful lot of Democrats flying around the world in private jets, mega yachts, and limousines.
      .
      And how do those left-leaning school teachers explain this to their students that they, the students, are just as guilty to the rest of us? From the Millennials down, they’re the ones demanding air condition and TVs in every room. They buy new electronics and cell phones every time a new one comes out so they’re trendy. Many of those kids don’t walk or even take the bus but have their parents drop them off, increasing the congestion and pollution.
      .
      And how do those same teachers describe that their Patagonia or Nike gear is just as bad as the loggers because they use giant manufactures in China and other Asian countries that don’t have the same EPA regulations, much less unions to protect the workers? How do the teachers blame the miners but ignore the fact that if it wasn’t their students’ insatiable spending on electronics that require mined minerals or “environmental-friendly” cars that require electricity and use corrosive batteries that also use mined minerals then we wouldn’t need so many mines?
      .
      If those left-leaning school teachers are going to blame oil companies, how do they also blame solar and wind providers? They, too, require mined minerals, giant amount of electricity to make them, and they kill animals, many on the endangered list?
      .
      The list goes on and on and on as to who is really to blame when it’s actually ALL of us, not specific groups of industries.

  • How about that? The very same communities that are against any development of Alaskan resources, are completely acceptable to receiving “white man” aid and financial largesse, in the form of new hyper-expensive electrical generation, subsidized mostly everything and regional sovereignty over most every issue. Hypocritical, to say the least. It seems most like the typical liberal/wingnut philosophy. “Good for thee but not for me”. Time to take these ‘pseudo-indigenous’ opinions and proponents to the wood shed for a lesson or two. Every Alaskan deserves the same treatment, no matter what their lineage. Take the productive Alaskans out of the equation and you have very little left. Don’t really think that actually makes any difference to leftists. Gov’t dependency is what they most want, including productive citizens ‘taking care of’ the rest. Everyone else can take a hike far as leftists are concerned. Is that really Alaska?? Sure didn’t used to be.

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