Not-so-unintended consequences of overregulation are in the air. Newly adopted rules limiting airborne soot imposed by bureaucrats in Washington threaten to freeze the choices — and toes — of individuals living more than 4,000 miles away in subarctic Alaska. Thanks to authoritarian overreach, the freedom of America’s “last frontier” may not last much longer.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waited until after President Obama’s re-election to announce drastic new restrictions on soot produced by industry smokestacks, diesel trucks and even ordinary sources like wood-burning stoves. The new standard for the great outdoors reduces the legal limit for airborne fine-particle matter from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 12 micrograms. To put in context how overly restrictive that is, secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of soot per cubic meter, according to the agency.
The worst aspect of the agency’s one-size-fits-all scheme is that the same rules that purports to clean up the air above U.S. megalopolises apply to the 97,000 residents of Fairbanks and its surrounding county, tucked amidst the wilderness of central Alaska. In January, the average low temperature is 15-25 degrees below zero and many homes turn to wood stoves to keep their heating costs under control. The county had already been on the EPA’s “non-attainment area” list before the new regulations. Compliance will be even harder now.
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