Air Mail Newsletter for November 2017

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In this issue

Regulatory updates

Air permitting e-Services update

This winter, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) plans to launch a new electronic service that will allow facilities to submit applications for individual air permit reissuances online. As of October, all individual air permit administrative amendment applications could be submitted by e-Service. The MPCA encourages, but does not require, facilities to use e-Services to submit these amendment applications.

The new e-Service will make permitting reviews faster by streamlining processes and decreasing data entry. It will help populate the database of permitting data that reduces the time required to issue air quality permits.

Getting started
First-time users of air quality e-Services should go to the MPCA’s Air permit forms and online submittals webpage for help getting started. The forms page has links to all available air e-Services, instructions on setting up an account and getting facility access, and a list of information needed for each page in the application. The page currently lists the available e-Services and help content. Additional links will be added for the new service prior to going live. Once in the e-Service, users will have access to help files for every page and field. If the help pages do not provide the information needed, users should contact the MPCA at

An e-services account can be created before the new Service goes live. Existing users of air e-services will be able to use the same account they already created to submit individual air permit reissuance applications.


Update to standards of performance for stationary internal combustion engines – ultra-low sulfur fuel requirement

Earlier this year, the MPCA finalized adoptions and revisions to rules governing air quality in multiple Minnesota Rules Chapters as part of its Omnibus Air Rule Amendments.  The new rules updated these chapters to keep Minnesota’s air quality rules current and ensure consistency with applicable state and federal regulations. The changes were effective December 27, 2016.

As part of the omnibus rulemaking, the MPCA lowered the sulfur dioxide emissions limit for internal combustion engines to 0.0015 pounds per million Btu. This change reflects the widespread availability of ultra-low sulfur fuels that can meet this limit. It also responds to the new, more stringent one-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide recently promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This new limit is effective January 31, 2018.

For facilities that wish to maintain their fuel flexibility, the rule change allows alternate fuels at facilities if they can demonstrate compliance with the sulfur dioxide NAAQS and their current permit contains the limitations needed to demonstrate compliance. The MPCA recognizes that some facilities in the state still use higher-sulfur fuels as a backup fuel source. These facilities will be able to continue to use these higher-sulfur fuels if they obtain a permit to do so.


Updated Air Quality Dispersion Modeling Practices Manual and AQDM forms now available

The 2017 revised MPCA Air Quality Dispersion Modeling Practices Manual is now available on the MPCA’s Air Quality Dispersion Modeling working practices and policies webpage. The manual is effective as of October 2017 and reflects updates to current modeling practices based on feedback received on the draft copy of proposed changes, changes to EPA’s Appendix W, and the full transition to MPCA’s e-service online delivery system. Also available are updated Air Quality Dispersion Modeling (AQDM) forms, which are located on the AQDM forms webpage.

Thank you to everyone who provided input on our proposed 2017 manual changes! Comments received help improve MPCA’s modeling and review processes. If you have thoughts, comments, or related feedback throughout the year, please send us a message at


Update to Minnesota’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program

As of October 26, 2017 (published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2017), Minnesota is now operating a State Implementation Plan-approved PSD program.  Until now, Minnesota has issued PSD permits under a delegation of authority through EPA’s program.  The Clean Air Act intends for states to implement their own PSD programs, so getting Minnesota’s PSD program approved into the SIP aligns us with the intention of the Act. 

The MPCA submitted Minnesota’s existing PSD rule (Minn. R. 7007.3000) for approval into our SIP.  Because we submitted our current rule for EPA approval, there are few substantive changes to the program.  The slight differences in program implementation include:

  • Under the federally delegated program, appealed permit decisions went to the federal Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). With a SIP-approved PSD program, appeals will go to the state contested case hearing process.
  • As a result, there is no longer an EAB appeal period after a final permit is issued.
  • Consultations for the Endangered Species Act and Historic Preservation Act are no longer required because PSD permits will no longer be federal actions.  However, the requirements of these laws do still apply.

Changes to the PSD program will continue to be adopted as they become effective under the federal rule (40 CFR 52.21).

If you have questions on Minnesota’s PSD program, please contact Dick Cordes, P.E. (651-757-2291 or

Minnesota’s first electric vehicle charging corridor

New EV charging station

With the installation of new charging stations, you can now travel by electric vehicle (EV) from the Twin Cities metro area to Duluth. Interstate 35 now has a series of fast-charging stations that can charge an EV in about 30 minutes.  Forest Lake, Pine City, Sturgeon Lake, and Duluth all host stations.  EV drivers can travel with confidence knowing an opportunity to charge is not far away.  Plans are in the works for additional charging stations beyond Duluth to allow eventual travel by EV along the North Shore. 

EV charging station ribbon cutting

In October, the final link in Minnesota’s first EV “charging corridor” was completed with the opening of the Sturgeon Lake station.   Representatives from project partners – MPCA, ZEF Energy, Lake Country Power, Great River Energy, and Doc’s Sports Bar & Grill (where the station is located) – were on hand to mark the occasion.

Duluth EV charging carport

This spring Minnesota Power installed a 54-kilowatt solar carport along with charging stations in Canal Park in Duluth.  The carport hosts eight Level 2 stations that can charge an EV in 2 to 6 hours and one fast charging station that can charge an EV in 30 minutes.  Electricity from the solar array feeds directly into the charging stations when charging an EV.  Excess power is fed back onto the grid.

Minnesota has plans for highway charging corridors that will eventually allow drivers to travel by EV throughout the state.  The U.S. Department of Energy is also designating national charging corridors to encourage travel by EV nationwide. To learn more about Minnesota’s first EV charging corridor and other upcoming corridors, visit

Save the date: MPCA 2018 winter air modeling, inventory, and monitoring network seminar

The MPCA will be expanding its annual winter modeling seminar to include staff presentations on emissions inventory and our air monitoring network .

The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 11th, 2018 from 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. in the board room of the MPCA’s St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North.  Inventory and monitoring network topics, as they relate to air modeling, will be presented in the morning and specific air modeling topics in the afternoon.

This seminar is an opportunity for participation by the regulated community.  We are soliciting external stakeholders to give presentations relating to air modeling, inventory, and monitoring topics.  Please send an email to to propose a specific presentation. Further details about this meeting will be sent in a future Air Mail Bulletin.

Mapping areas of concern for environmental justice

Map of areas of concern for environmental justice in Minnesota

The MPCA is committed to making sure that pollution does not have a disproportionate impact on any group of people — the principle of environmental justice.  This means that all people — regardless of their race, color, national origin, or income — benefit from equal levels of environmental protection and have opportunities to participate in decisions that may affect their environment or health.

The MPCA’s approach to integrating environmental justice into its work, as outlined in our Environmental Justice Framework, begins with an assessment of where low-income Minnesotans, people of color, and others may be experiencing more harm or may be more susceptible to environmental conditions.  

To aid in this process, and only as an initial step, the MPCA uses demographic data to identify census tracts that may be areas of elevated concern for environmental justice issues. Specifically, an area of concern for environmental justice is a census tract that meets one or more of these criteria:

  • The number people of color is greater than 50%.
  • More than 40% of the people have an income of less than 185% of the federal poverty level.
  • Additionally, the MPCA considers communities within tribal boundaries as areas of concern.

The MPCA has developed an online screening tool to allow staff, the people we regulate, our partners, and community members to identify areas where additional consideration or effort is warranted to evaluate the potential for disproportionate adverse impacts, consider ways to reduce those impacts, and ensure meaningful community engagement.

Examples of how the MPCA is using this screening tool in the air program include:

  • Targeting grants and technical assistance to reduce air emissions from sources located in these areas.
  • Including environmental justice concerns and increased air pollution concentrations as a criterion when selecting which facilities to inspect.
  • During air permitting, involving community members earlier in the permitting process and looking for ways to strengthen established permit limits or change practices to diminish impacts.
  • Consider prioritizing review and evaluation of expired permits for facilities located in areas of concern.

To learn more about the MPCA’s work towards environmental justice, visit our website.

Statewide air modeling shows sources of pollution in communities

Air modeling and human health mapping tool

The results of a statewide air modeling effort using Minnesota’s 2011 emission inventory are now available on the MPCA website. Users can explore interactive maps to see statewide and local air pollution modeling results for fine particles and pollutants known as air toxics.

Use the pollutant priority tool to:

  • Explore potential health risks due to air pollution in your community
  • Compare the health risks of pollutants between different cities and communities.

Use the source priority tool to:

  • Identify primary sources of fine particles and air toxics in your city or community
  • View the impact of busy roads and other sources on pollutant concentrations near you
  • Compare health risks in areas of environmental justice concern.

Visit the MPCA’s air modeling and human health webpage to start exploring air pollution in Minnesota.

Updates on MPCA/MDH “Life and Breath” analysis of the health impacts of air pollution

Cover image of Life and Breath Report

In 2015, the MPCA and Minnesota Department of Health released the Life and Breath report on the health impacts of air pollution in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  This report was part of a larger collaboration between the two agencies to study and inform the public and other stakeholders about the health impacts of air pollution.  The website was another key product of this joint initiative. 

This summer, the MPCA and MDH completed additional analyses with more recent (2012) air quality and health data to update the estimates of air pollution-attributable deaths in the Twin Cities metro area and included these results in a new appendix in the report.  Additionally, the authors of the report published an article in the September/October issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice describing the collaboration, how the study was done, and key results.  This helps to inform a broader public health audience about the relationship between air pollution and health.

Now, the two agencies are working to extend the Life and Breath analysis statewide.  Including greater Minnesota is an important next step for characterizing the health impacts of air pollution for all Minnesotans.  The findings of the statewide analysis will be used to build broader awareness about the health impacts and risks of air pollution, identify vulnerable populations and areas, and inform pollution prevention and health promotion policies and actions at both state and local levels.  You can expect to see the report by late 2018.

MPCA will soon have $200,000 in grant funds for replacing dirty diesels

Diesel truck replacement

The MPCA will soon have $200,000 available to fund projects that take old diesel vehicles and equipment out of commission and replace them with new, less-polluting versions.  We expect the 2018 Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant will be open by the end of November.  All application materials will be found on our Clean Diesel website.  There you can also find examples of past projects that received funding.  Watch for an Air Mail announcement when the grant is posted.

The MPCA recently finished administering the 2017 round of clean diesel grants, which replaced 17 old diesel engines.  Projects included a crane, a commercial boat, and 11 trucks. These projects reduced emissions of fine particles and nitrogen oxides by about 95 percent

Diesel truck replacement

Older diesel engines produce substantial amounts of particulate pollution which can work their way through the lungs and into the circulatory system.  The particles cause increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and asthma attacks.  Diesel exhaust also contains nitrogen oxides, a major pollutant which can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma. New heavy-duty engines are significantly cleaner than older versions, so replacing these old trucks and equipment with new models results in major emissions reductions. 

Switching to cleaner products to reduce neighborhood emissions

MnTAP project

This summer, automotive shops in Minneapolis’s Phillips neighborhood  got an opportunity to improve worker safety and public health by switching to safer cleaning and degreasing products. Standard cleaning and degreasing products emit hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to poor air quality. To address these common pollutants, the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) developed an intern project to provide technical assistance to auto shops to promote adoption of safer cleaning and degreasing products. 

After identifying interested businesses, the MnTAP intern analyzed the products in use at the shop, provided samples of cleaner alternatives, and worked with owners on their use. If the shop mechanics liked the products and agreed to change, MnTAP provided a case of them to encourage the switch. As a result, participating shops will cut over 450 lbs. of VOCs and 860 lbs. of HAPs  emissions annually.

This winter MnTAP is expanding the program to facilities in North Minneapolis. To learn more or participate in this program contact Jane Paulson (612-624-1826,

Next summer, interns will continue working in local communities to address air quality by improving energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction through pollution prevention. Focus areas include food processing and water savings, or any other environmental challenge a host business may have. To learn more about the Intern Program and how to apply for a 2018 MnTAP intern, contact Nathan Landwehr, Intern Administrator (612-624-4697 or, or visit MnTAP’s website.

2018 Super Bowl: public events and generators

From food trucks to cell phone charging, the 2018 Super Bowl will rely on many temporary generators to meet its energy needs. To help prevent undue air pollution from their use, the MPCA and our partners on the 2018 Super Bowl Host Committee Sustainability Team, helped develop a Guide to Selecting Generators and Stationary Engines: Smart Choices can Minimize Impacts. The Guide contains emissions information and identifies best management practices for generators and engines. Aside from the Super Bowl, the guide can be used for any event that might use generators or engines for power generation.

The guide is a collaboration between the MPCA, Xcel Energy, the City of Minneapolis and Ecolab, with support from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Metropolitan Council. Find it and other energy tips on the MPCA’s website.

Final Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement released

VW vehicle

On October 2, 2017, the parties in the Volkswagen settlement negotiation filed the final, signed documents with the court.  You can find the final settlement documents here.  On November 6, 2017, Minnesota submitted our paperwork to officially become eligible to receive our $47 million allocation.

The MPCA will soon be hosting additional public meetings around the state to hear more from Minnesotans on what matters to them and what types of projects are most important to them.  The funds can be used for projects that replace old heavy-duty diesel equipment and vehicles with new equipment or to install electric vehicle charging stations.  We have not yet finalized meeting dates and times.  Watch for an announcement in the coming weeks.

To keep up to date on the Volkswagen settlement in Minnesota, sign up for our email list here.

EPA designates all of Minnesota “attainment/unclassifiable” for ozone

On November 6, 2017, EPA announced designations for most of the country for the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).  All counties in Minnesota were designated “attainment/unclassifiable.” This designation means that monitoring data indicate that Minnesota is complying with the ozone NAAQS. 

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review national air quality standards for common air pollutants every five years to ensure they reflect the most current scientific evidence and are protective of human health and the environment.  EPA must then work with the states to determine what parts of the country are complying with the standards (attainment), not complying with the standards (nonattainment), or unclassifiable. 

Learn more on EPA’s website.

In the news

Clean Power Plan repeal

On October 16, 2017 the EPA proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan.  The Clean Power Plan is an Obama administration regulation that requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their power sectors.  The new administration is proposing to repeal this rule and says they may consider a replacement in the future, but has not set a specific timeline.  Read more at the New York Times and on the EPA’s website.


Review of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards

On August 21, 2017 the EPA announced a reconsideration of the federal fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles that were set to come into effect in 2021-2025.  Learn more on the EPA’s website and at Automotive News.

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