Action plan draws climate rally

A large crowd showed up in force at Thursday night’s Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly to speak on the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, a roadmap of recommended goals and actions to address climate change challenges in the borough.

Outside the borough administrative center, more than two dozen people rallied to support the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and the Alaska Center as they pushed support for the original version of the plan.

Shouts of “Listen to the public, restore the climate plan” and “the climate is warming” filled the air, with occasional passers-by dismissing the claims or objecting to any climate change.

Alyssa Quintyne with the Alaska Center said the plan takes all residents to address the matter.

“The threat to the climate is real,” Quintyne said. “I know this community is committed and strong. We will continue to work for what this community deserves, and that is climate action.”

Tristan Glowa, with the coalition, told rally attendees that the borough leadership must take lead and not shirk its duties to address challenges caused by the climate change.

The CAAP has been in the works since 2019 and has undergone a lengthy process from stakeholder engagement and efforts from two committees and engineering firm RESPEC.

The plan underwent significant changes following edits by a new climate action committee appointed by Assembly Presiding Officer Aaron Lojewski after he took the assembly helm. Lojewski tasked the new committee with ensuring the plan’s goals and recommended actions to align with borough powers.

The plan the committee advanced to the assembly includes one 37-page chapter full of recommended actions and goals and an extensive set of references and appendices.

Recommended actions and goals include continued monitoring of borough-owned buildings to lower energy costs, weatherization of older facilities and more energy efficient new construction as well as a push to diversify the borough’s vehicle fleet when making new purchases.

It also encourages the development of renewable energy sources, a more robust transit plan and strategically capitalizing on existing natural gas infrastructure.

However, the edited version has been called gutted by local residents and environmental groups, as it buries four original chapters in the appendices.

The borough climate action committee recommended the edited plan at its May 8 meeting. When moving the plan forward, most committee members stated the the revisions made reflects what the borough can accomplish and are practical.

Aaron Gibson, chair of the now-winded down climate action committee, told the News-Miner Thursday night that the revised plan “is something we have given our full attention to.”

“There was a lot of items on it that the committee was in agreement on,” Gibson said. “The focus was to take goals that the borough can achieve with reasonable actions.”

The borough assembly had not reached a conclusion on adopting the plan as of deadline Thursday night.


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