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Trump signs bill to relax air quality rule for Alaska diesel generators
was written by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media , 2019-10-05 00:40:24
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President Trump has signed a bill to exempt diesel generators in rural Alaska from an air quality rule. Village power utilities say the equipment needed to meet the so-called “Tier 4” emissions standard is impractical. They say the equipment causes generators to break down more and burn more fuel — two problems that are especially hard on remote communities.
The Tier 4 emission standards are from a rule the Environmental Protection Agency adopted in 2004. They’ve been phased in gradually, greatly reducing the amount of black soot and nitrogen oxides allowed in diesel exhaust.
Sen. Dan Sullivan sponsored the bill to exempt rural Alaska generators from the rule, with the support of Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young. Trump signed it Friday.
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Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is actually the biggest national forest in the United States. It acquired it’s name from the Tongass Clan of the Tlingit native people and goes back to 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt created the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve. In 1908 the forest was re-named and expanded and at present the 16.9 million-acre Tongass National Forest runs from the Pacific ocean to the great inland ice fields that edge British Columbia and from the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island to Malaspina Glacier 500 miles to the north. About 80 percent of Southeast Alaska is in Tongass and with it’s thousands of islands, fjords and bays the national forest has 11,000 miles of shoreline. Tongass’ sizable coastal rain forest includes towering hemlock, spruce and red and yellow cedar. The undergrowth beneath thegiant conifers is made up of young evergreens and shrubs such as devil’s club, blueberry and huckleberry. Moss and ferns cover the ground, and lichens adorn many trees and rocks.
Wildlife is plentiful throughout Tongass. Sitka blacktail deer and it’s two main predators, wolf and brown bear, are observed here. Black bear are common as well as mountain goats and some moose. Marine mammals encountered along the shores include Dall and harbor porpoises, seals and humpback, minke and orca whales and an expanding population of sea otters. The seas teem with fish such as halibut and all 5 species of Pacific salmon. More bald eagles stay in this region than in any other location in the world. Although the place to find the world’s main temperate rain forest, nearly half of Tongass is covered by ice, water, wetlands and rock. It’s most popular ice floe is the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska’s “Drive-in glacier” since it is just 13 miles from down-town Juneau along a paved road. A boat ride from Petersburg or Wrangell can bring anyone near the face of LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier on the continent. Just thirty miles north of Yakutat is Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in the world and easily Alaska’s most active. The 76-mile-long glacier has crossed Russell Fjord several times, lately in 2008. The rip tides and currents that flow in front of the 8-mile-wide glacier are so strong they cause Hubbard to calve almost constantly. The Tongass consists of nineteen wilderness areas, including the 545-sq-mile Russell Fjord Wilderness, as well as Admiralty Island National Monument and Misty Fiords National Monument. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and the general area around Haines and Skagway aren’t part of the national forest.