Air Mail Newsletter for February 2015

Air Mail newsletter header

In this issue:

Regulatory updates

Update on new Air Emissions General Permit for Low-Emitting Facilities

The MPCA will begin accepting applications for the Low-Emitting Facility General Permit on February 17, 2015. Application forms and instructions and a copy of the permit are available on the MPCA website.

The Low-Emitting Facility Permit is primarily intended for businesses with high potential pollutant emissions and low actual emissions that began operating without an air permit, making them ineligible for a registration permit. Examples of businesses that are likely to apply are auto-body shops; metal fabrication facilities; cabinet shops; other manufacturers that coat or paint; and manufacturers that have engines, boilers, or tanks on site. However, any eligible facility can apply.

A period of amnesty will be allowed for facilities that qualify for this permit and are currently operating without a permit.

Please check out the Low-Emitting Facility General Permit webpage for additional information. Many questions can be answered by viewing the webpage or completing the eligibility and application forms.

Air Quality in Minnesota: 2015 Report to the Legislature now available

AQLR cover

The MPCA’s biennial report to the legislature on air quality in the state highlights progress made in reducing air pollution emissions and improving air quality across Minnesota. While overall air quality in Minnesota has improved over the past 20 years, current levels of air pollution still contribute to health impacts for Minnesotans. This year’s air quality report provides a summary of air pollutants and emissions sources that contribute to adverse health effects.  It also identifies the strategies and actions that the MPCA is taking to achieve further air pollution reductions to enhance the health of Minnesotans and the environment.

 The 2015 Air Quality Legislative Report is available on the MPCA’s website.

Progress report on reducing Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions

GHG progress

The biennial legislative report on progress toward the Next Generation Energy Act greenhouse gas reduction goals is now available. Between 2005 and 2012, greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota declined by 11 million carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) tons, or about 7%, with the most significant reductions coming from electric power utilities and transportation energy use.

New near-road monitoring site

Near road

Minnesota’s second near-road air pollutant monitoring site began operation on January 1, 2015, along I-35 in Lakeville.  Air pollution can be higher close to roadways, and pollutant levels and varieties vary with traffic patterns, roadway design, and vehicle mix.  To better understand and potentially minimize near-road pollution, the MPCA has installed two near-road monitors along the two of the busiest roadways in Minnesota.  The first site began operating on January 1, 2013, along the I-94 and I-35W freeway commons near downtown Minneapolis.  For more information, visit the MPCA website.

Community Air Monitoring Project

The Community Air Monitoring Project (CAMP) uses funding from the 2013 Minnesota Legislature to do short-term air quality monitoring in selected Minnesota neighborhoods.  The objective is to monitor and assess air quality in low-income neighborhoods or communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution emissions from highways, air traffic, or industrial sources.  The monitor is moved every three months, with monitoring results posted to the CAMP website after the data has been quality assured and analyzed.

Since starting the project in October 2013, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has completed monitoring at five neighborhood sites.  The CAMP monitor is now located in its sixth community, the Lyndale neighborhood in Minneapolis.  The MPCA will be monitoring in this community from January 1 to March 31, 2015.

For more information on the Community Air Monitoring Project, please visit the CAMP website or call either 651-296-6300 or 1-800-657-3864 and ask for air data analysis staff.  More information about the MPCA’s air monitoring program is available on the MPCA website.

Trainings available through the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program


The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program has several upcoming events and training opportunities:

  • Industrial Paint Webinar Series: This series offers short presentations on changes you can make to improve your painting processes – presented by industry practitioners and suppliers with first-hand experience to share.  Remaining sessions include:

-Session 2: February 4, 2015, 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. – Paint Formulation Modifications -Improvements in paints that are better for the environment

-Session 3: February 18, 2015, 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. – Powder Coating Considerations - Will it work for you? Can you make the system more efficient?

  • Minnesota Paint and Powder Coating Expo: Thursday, March 19, 2015, at Century College in White Bear Lake. The Expo will include a vendor show and hands-on demonstrations and technical seminars related to new technologies and processes, powder and liquid coating, cleaning pretreatment, cost savings, waste reduction, energy conservation, coating optimization, and case studies.

  • Industrial painter training: Wednesday, March 18 at Century College in White Bear Lake. In conjunction with the Expo, the Iowa Waste Reduction Center will provide industrial painter training on March 18 at the Expo location. Trainers will work with attendees to improve finishing techniques on virtual reality spray equipment. Two half-day sessions are planned, so sign up for a morning or afternoon class. The training will cover the fundamentals of spray application and focus on best practices to optimize spray technique to improve productivity, reduce rework and defects, and decrease air emissions.  Registration and updates for both the Expo and Painter Training can be found on the Expo’s website.

In the news

EPA Agreement with Taconite Plants on Haze Limits Open for Comment

On Friday, January 30, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice of a proposed settlement agreement to resolve lawsuits by Cliffs Natural Resources and Arcelor Mittal seeking review of its Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan (FIP), which addressed taconite emissions in Minnesota and Michigan. EPA’s FIP, originally finalized February 6, 2013, required limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) representing Best Available Retrofit Technology, but it has been stayed, pending the resolution of litigation. The proposed settlement agreement includes new NOX and SO2 limits for the facilities, as well as a schedule for EPA to promulgate revised FIPs incorporating the new limits.  Please see the EPA’s website for more information on the taconite FIP.

The comment period for the proposed settlement closes on March 2, 2015. For more information, and to submit comments, please visit the EPA’s page.

Pollution prevention in Minnesota

Minnesota businesses are the best in the United States at reducing or eliminating some dangerous pollutants, according to a recent EPA report.  To find out more, visit the MPCA website.

New ozone standard

On November 26, 2014, the EPA proposed revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone.  The level of the standard would be made more stringent to protect human health and the environment based on current scientific understanding of ozone’s impacts.  Local news outlets have been reporting on what the new standards might mean for Minnesota.

Lead standard review

The EPA announced in December that it proposed to retain the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead.  The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review its air quality standards every five years to ensure that they are in line with current scientific understanding of the health and environmental impacts of air pollution.  EPA’s decision to retain the lead standard comes after review of the current scientific literature on the health impacts of lead.  For more information, visit the EPA’s website.

Air quality alert days

In December, the MPCA issued an air quality advisory for southern Minnesota.  Stagnant weather patterns trapped fine particles close to the ground.  The MPCA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to get the word out to Minnesotans on traffic signs.  Local news outlets reported on the advisory.

Air quality and highways

In a recent report, a local news outlet explored the impacts of traffic on concentrations of particle pollution inside vehicles.

Climate change in Minnesota

This week, Minnesota Public Radio has been conducting an in-depth report on climate change in Minnesota.

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Air Mail is a quarterly, email-based newsletter featuring updates on air quality issues and the work of the MPCA and our partners.  Subscribers to this list also receive Air Mail Bulletins, which provide time-sensitive regulatory and technical updates.

To see past issues, Air Mail Bulletins, or to subscribe, visit the MPCA's website.