Air Mail Newsletter for February 2016

Air Mail newsletter header

In this issue:

Regulatory updates

Omnibus Air Rulemaking

The MPCA is amending its air quality rules and planning to publish notice of proposed revisions in February 2016. The overall purpose of the rulemaking is to keep the air quality rules current, ensure consistency with applicable federal and state regulations, make minor changes to existing rules, clarify ambiguous language, and correct gaps or errors identified while administering the existing rules.

The MPCA is proposing amendments to Minnesota Rules chapters 7002, 7005, 7007, 7008, 7009, 7011, 7017, 7019, and 7030. Examples of the kind of changes to the rules include:  changes in permit processes related to the 2009 federal Flexible Air Permitting Rule and the State Permitting Efficiency Laws of 2011 and 2012, clarification of the forms of particulate matter in various rule parts, updating state ambient air standards to match current federal standards, changes to performance standards and performance testing, and emission inventory requirements for certain registration permits. The proposed amendments affect air emission facilities with individual air emissions permits (Federal Part 70 or State) and registration permit holders.

If you are interested in receiving email notices about these rules, please sign up through GovDelivery for Omnibus Air rule updates. Information on these rules is available on the MPCA’s Omnibus Air Rule webpage.


New online air quality permitting services available

You can now electronically apply for an administrative amendment to an Individual Air Permit to extend a deadline up to 120 days or to change ownership, facility name, or owner or operator name. To use these services, go to the MPCA's e-Services webpage.

Please Note: New and existing services (example: Air Emission Inventory – CEDR) currently operate on two separate systems, and depending on what services you'd like to use, you may need to maintain two accounts with the agency. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to combine these two systems as soon as possible.  If you have questions or comments, please send us a note.


MPCA moves to new data and information management system

From the last issue of Air Mail, you may recall a short article about new online services available for individual air quality permit holders (read it here). The availability of these new services coincided with the agency’s switch to a new data and information management system, known to MPCA staff as “Tempo.” When fully implemented, Tempo will replace more than a dozen data management systems that have been used at the MPCA, some for over 20 years.

While this is primarily a behind-the-scenes change, external users of some MPCA services will notice changes, too. As part of the Tempo roll-out, the MPCA has made great strides in standardizing many documents across programs, including permits. When you get your next air permit, it will look quite different from your previous permit — the order of the sections of individual permits and the formatting of all permits are now consistent across the various permit programs.

We know the switch to Tempo and associated processes hasn’t been perfect, and it’ll take a while for MPCA staff to get used to using it. And we recognize that the time needed to issue some permits may increase for a period of time, but we are trying to minimize this to the extent possible. So, please be patient as we work out any problems!


Small business compliance calendar

2016 Small Business Compliance Calendars are now available online!  To help small businesses with the record-keeping needed to comply with environmental regulations, the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program at the MPCA created calendars for specific industry sectors. These calendars provide multimedia assistance tools, helpful hints, and contacts for additional information.  If you know a drycleaner, aggregate facility, or aboveground storage-tank owner, let them know about this online tool.  If a paper copy is needed or a small business has additional questions, contact the SBEAP at (651) 282-6143. 

Greater Minnesota community listening sessions scheduled for Clean Power Plan


The MPCA has scheduled four community listening sessions on the Clean Power Plan around the state for February.  The Clean Power Plan is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule requiring states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants (for more information, visit the EPA’s website). The Clean Power Plan will encourage the development of cleaner energy and energy conservation. EPA has set targets for states to meet, and the MPCA must now develop a plan to comply with the rule. Before we develop our plan, we want to hear what Minnesotans’ interests and concerns are related to the Clean Power Plan and clean energy.

The events will start with an open house where MPCA staff will be available to answer questions and chat with visitors one-on-one. The listening session will immediately follow the open house. We’ll provide a bit of background on the Clean Power Plan and our expected schedules and requirements, and most importantly, will listen to what YOU have to say.

All meetings will follow this schedule:

  • 5:30PM-6:30PM: Open house/talk one-on-one with MPCA staff
  • 6:30PM-8PM: Meeting/listening session begins
  • MPCA staff will be available for follow up questions after the meeting

Meeting locations:

  • February 9: St. Cloud State University, Atwood Memorial Center, Voyageurs Room, St. Cloud (event flyer here)
  • February 16: Bemidji State University, the American Indian Resource Center’s Gathering Place, Bemidji (event flyer here)
  • February 23: University of Minnesota–Duluth, Swenson Civil Engineering Building, Rooms 265/231, Duluth (event flyer here) – Please note the location change from previous announcements!
  • February 24: Southwest Minnesota State University Conference Center, Upper Ballroom, Marshall (event flyer here)

We’ll be holding additional events in the coming months – stay tuned! If you can’t make one of the meetings, there will be opportunities to express interests and concerns on our website. The website is still under development, but we’ll be sure to send out an update when it’s launched!

We encourage you to use and distribute the flyers linked above to pass this information on to anyone who might be interested.  If you have any questions about these events, please contact

Grants help Oscar Auto Body reduce air emissions

Oscar Auto

Oscar Auto Body in Minneapolis received funding  for a new water-based paint system from an MPCA grant and a matching grant from the City of Minneapolis’s Green Business Program as part of a statewide effort to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from small businesses.  Between the two grants the shop secured $101,000 toward the $150,000 paint booth.

With the new system, cars spend about half the time in the paint department compared with the old solvent-based system.  Owner Ramin Hakimi reports it also  improves workflow, being nearer to the new mixing room.  VOC emissions have been reduced about 73 percent in the first eight months, eliminating about 736 lbs. of VOCs per year.

The shop has also seen an increase in business after receiving both the Minneapolis Green Business Award and the Whittier Alliance Good Business Award.  For the full scoop on Oscar Auto Body and the business and environmental benefits gained from the new paint booth, see this article in FenderBender magazine.

Also check out this short video about VOCs and the Oscar Auto Body story. This could be you! Small business VOC grant funding from the MPCA will be available late winter 2016 for similar VOC reduction projects. A 25 percent match will be required.  Visit to see other best practices for improving air quality and protecting the health of your employees.

GreenCorps accepting host-site applications soon


The MPCA will soon be accepting applications from organizations interested in being a host site for the Minnesota GreenCorps program for 2016-17. Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting GreenCorps members are anticipated to open in February. When the application period opens, all subscribers of the Minnesota GreenCorps GovDelivery list will be notified and receive instructions on how to apply.  Visit the GreenCorps website to learn more about this program and opportunity!

Preview of the upcoming program year

The MPCA plans to place up to 40 full-time members with various host sites  coming year. Members serve about 40 hours a week for 11 months beginning in mid- to late-September 2016 through August 2017. Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not-for-profit institutions of higher education, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Organizations may apply for Minnesota GreenCorps members to serve on projects in:

  • Air quality (including energy conservation and green transportation)
  • Waste prevention and recycling
  • Green infrastructure (including local foods, stormwater management, and urban forestry)
  • Living Green outreach

Operation of the 2016-2017 program year is contingent on receiving funding. Confirmation of funding may not be available prior to the application deadline.

New Rapid Health Impact Assessments in Minnesota

The MPCA is participating on Health Impact Assessment workgroups with the Minnesota Department of Health.  An HIA is a process that provides decision-makers with information about how a policy, program, or project may affect people’s health. In Minnesota, MDH both performs HIAs and provides technical assistance to other organizations. For more information on HIAs in Minnesota, see the MDH Health Impact Assessment website.

MDH recently awarded two grants for rapid HIAs to be performed on policies or plans related to the built environment, including transportation and land use. A rapid HIA is usually completed in a short time, covers a smaller or less complicated proposal, and usually does not include an in-depth numerical analysis. Each of the two grants described below is funded for $30,000 and will be completed by August 31, 2016.


 The Region Nine Development Commission will expand the planning process initiated by a grant it received from the MPCA in January of 2015 to develop an assessment and adaptation plan for climate change vulnerability. The RNDC will conduct an HIA of the goals, strategies, and action steps identified in the adaptation planning process for the counties of Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan. For more information, contact Jacob Thunander at or visit the RNDC web page.

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission received an HIA grant that focuses on physical activity and neighborhood health on Paul Bunyan Drive in Bemidji, working with MnDOT and other partners to assess barriers to walking, biking, and physical activity in neighborhoods along the busy roadway. For more information, contact Kurt Wayne at or visit the HRDC web page.


MnDOT seeking input for statewide transportation planning efforts


The Minnesota Department of Transportation is currently updating a number of statewide transportation plans, including the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan (SMTP) and Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP). MnDOT is gathering information about Minnesotans’ priorities for the transportation system to provide insight into what planning factors are most important to people around the state. The project team has developed two surveys, one for each plan, that aim to gather feedback on a variety of issues that affect how MnDOT plans for the future of Minnesota’s transportation system.

Both surveys are available on the project website, A vast amount of information beyond the surveys is also available on the website, including trend analysis papers that review emerging trends in Minnesota ranging from environmental quality to Minnesota’s aging population and beyond. In particular, transportation is a key component of the air quality conversation, and your input into this relationship is critical to the plan update. You can also request a presentation from a member of the project team for your office, community group, or other interested organization.

If you would like more information on the SMTP please contact Katie Caskey, or, for more information on MnSHIP, contact Josh Pearson.

Check your home for radon

In Minnesota, 40 percent of homes have radon at levels high enough to be a health concern. The only way to know if yours is one of them is to have your home tested.  Check out for the story.


MnTAP’s degreasing webinar offers tips on safer products that really work


On February 24, at 9:00 AM CST, The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program is hosting a webinar titled Cleaners and Degreasers for Industrial Maintenance and Auto Repair - Safer Products That Work. Participants will learn about low-volatile organic compound  and low-hazardous air pollutant degreasing solvents that are proven to work and that reduce harmful exposures to workers and the community. Hear about the success of small commercial and industrial facilities that have made the switch to “greener” products and how MnTAP’s degreasing project has resulted in over 2,000 pounds in annual VOC reductions. For more information and to register, click here

Community Air Monitoring Project now in South St. Anthony Park Community

CAMP South St Anthony Park

The MPCA’s Community Air Monitoring Project (CAMP) uses funding from the 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 or communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution from highways, air traffic, or industrial sources.  Since starting the project in October 2013, the MPCA has completed monitoring at multiple community areas in the Twin Cities and Duluth. 

The CAMP monitor is now located in the South St. Anthony Park community in St. Paul.  The monitor will measure common air pollutants such as fine particles (dust and soot), volatile organic compounds, and metals that can be harmful to breathe.  Monitoring in this community started on January 6, 2016.

After the monitoring is completed, MPCA staff will analyze results, post the results to the CAMP website and share the findings with the public. For more information on the community air monitoring project, please visit the CAMP website or call 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’s website.

In the news

Federal Appeals Court allows Clean Power Plan to remain in place

On January 21, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied requests for a stay that would have prevented the EPA from implementing the Clean Power Plan while the Court considers legal challenges to the rule. The Clean Power Plan, EPA’s landmark regulation setting greenhouse gas limits on fossil fuel-fired power plants, has been challenged by several states and industry groups as a governmental overreach that will harm the economy and drive up electricity costs. Several other states (including Minnesota)  and cities, along with environmental and health advocates, have filed motions in support of EPA’s rule and opposing a stay of the rule, maintaining that the rule is both necessary to address climate change as well as achievable due to advances in renewable and cleaner energy technologies. The Court’s decision allows the rule to remain in place as it reviews the case, currently expected in June 2016.

For more information on the legal challenges surrounding the Clean Power Plan, visit Reuters.  For full details, the Environmental Defense Fund has compiled case information and resources from all parties here.


Appeals Court backs EPA approval of Minnesota’s Regional Haze Plan

On January 21, 2016, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to let stand the EPA’s approval of Minnesota’s regional haze plan.  The Court’s action resolves a challenge to a critical component of Minnesota’s existing Regional Haze State Implementation Plan, and allows the MPCA to look ahead to the next round of regional haze planning and focus resources where they may best support visibility improvement in Minnesota’s Class I areas. EPA is currently developing rulemaking expected to require the next round of Regional Haze SIPs to be due in 2021.  For more information, visit CBS Minnesota.


New study on life-cycle emissions from electric vehicles

The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a new study indicating that total greenhouse gas emissions over the life of an electric vehicle – starting from raw materials and manufacturing through its disposal – are half the lifecycle emissions from an equivalent gasoline-powered car.  The study indicates that gasoline vehicles in Minnesota would need to achieve at least 43 miles per gallon to have equivalent life-cycle emissions to a comparable electric car.  Read the full study here.

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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.

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If you have questions or comments about Air Mail, please feel free to contact Amanda Jarrett Smith at