With a meeting this past week in Fairbanks on air quality there certainly an ongoing concern over wood burning devices (despite the temperate weather as of late). One change that will be coming soon is the reinstatement of an approved appliance/device list from the Borough. One had existed but was retracted around 2 years ago. At the time outdoor hydronic boilers that were on the EPA’s list were accepted by the Borough (as well as a coal hydronic boiler that was not on the list but ran through various lab testing procedures initiated by the vendor). In February the EPA may include hydronic boilers in its regulations (which along with wood pellet devices it hasn’t spoken to these in the past. And it is possible that the state may have regulations that could be more stringent than the Borough’s soon. Of course, it is expected that restrictions would be forward looking and most likely will focus on vendors. Thus those units now in place would not be pulled out of people’s yards though it is possible that when selling a home an existing system would need to be replaced. There will be more to come this year and we will see! To get an idea of hydronic boilers that are approved by the EPA, go to http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/owhhlist.html.
During the transition of governors, there has been the revelation that at low oil prices (around 50% lower than this time last year) the state pays out more royalties than revenue it brings in to producing companies. Some suggest it is not a result of the taxing regime which the State has applied to the producing companies but rather a matter of low production. Others have said it would still be a ‘red’ situation regardless had the state kept the old ACES regime that was changed last year or stuck with the old. And some say it is not clear if this is a product of the gas fields in Cook Inlet or the crude fields up on the North Slope…..No matter, this is the first large crisis the Governor and his staff will face. With a very competent Commissioner of Revenue, seasoned DNR Commissioner, and the Governor’s private law practice experience specializing in oil/gas there will no doubt be many angles this will be looked at from for a solution. Yet the other half of formulating a plan to come into the black during a period of oil prices under $100/barrel will also involve the state legislature. This is a first in Alaska’s statehood history, and is sure to make the spring a lively time in Juneau during the legislative session.
So now we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with gas prices being down toward $2.25/gal for those traveling. Will more people travel? Will these low prices kill plans for marketing electric vehicles in the short run? But the question on most people’s mind probably is “Will these prices stay this low (or possibly go lower)?” Some of that may depend on what OPECs geo-polictical ambitions are. Some have said OPEC has allowed these low prices as a way to take a whack at Russia’s market share on crude oil – and there certainly seems to have been a negative effect on that nation by these low prices (low crude barrel prices=> low per gallon gas prices). Keep your eye’s open and we’ll see how things change on gas prices with this new year….
This year I have had a couple instances of homeowners who have elevated radon levels (above 4.0 pcl/liter concentration) where they have a bathroom in the basement (slab) and have found that whoever put the plumbing in knocked out a large gaping hole for the p-trap to rise up to the faucets. So though there is poly sheeting often under the slab and cracks are being checked at the cold seam it is found that radon can easily come through from the gravel below along the pipes behind the water controller in the shower wall. The answer (you may not want to hear this if this is your situation): you are going to need to get behind the tub wall- maybe pull the tub unit out even- to use poly sheeting that your going to need to wrap around the pipe with red vapor barrier tape and black death/Tremco-like sealant. Cutting the plastic larger than the hole you may not have much room to work, yet do your best and send myself photos at firstname.lastname@example.org to get an idea for access!