Air Mail Newsletter for November 2019

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In this issue


Air quality rules are updated to include federal standards

On September 27, 2019, the comment period closed on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) proposed rulemaking to incorporate by reference 31 new source performance standards (NSPS) and national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAPs) into Minnesota rules chapter 7011, Standards for Stationary Sources.  The MPCA incorporates federal standards of performance- limiting criteria and hazardous air pollutants into state rules so that federal standards have the effect of state law.  Incorporating the federal standards gives the MPCA authority to implement and enforce them.  The MPCA expects the rule will be completed and effective by April 2020.

In addition to the new incorporations, the rulemaking also addressed a number of other needed revisions within chapter 7011.  These amendments correct inconsistencies in the titles of previously adopted rules, update referenced materials, make consistency changes in how the rules describe incorporated federal requirements, and make non-substantive adjustments and modifications to clarify existing rule requirements.  These changes mean that when the rule is effective and codified within Minnesota rules, titles of standards will be different.  None of the changes to the headings have any effect on the requirements of that part. The changes to the headings are solely to provide more useful access to information about the rules.  Learn more about the rulemaking on the MPCA’s website.


MPCA launches Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking

Governor Walz announcing Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking

In September, Governor Walz directed MPCA to begin rulemaking to adopt low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards for Minnesota.  This direction grew out of the conversations and analysis that were part of the Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation in Minnesota initiative (see below).  The Clean Cars rulemaking will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants from passenger vehicles in Minnesota.

On October 7, MPCA published a request for comments which formally began the rulemaking process.  The MPCA’s webpage includes the request for comment and instructions on how to submit a comment, as well as a supplementary document outlining concepts the agency is considering and particular questions for commenters to consider. 

The MPCA is holding public meetings across the state to hear from Minnesotans about the Clean Cars rulemaking.  The remaining public meetings are being held in Marshall (November 6), Virginia (November 12), Minneapolis (November 14), and Mankato (November 19), as well as a webinar on November 4. 

MPCA will also be hosting a series of technical meetings to dive into the details of the rulemaking and statement of need and reasonableness.  The first technical meeting will be in St. Paul on November 15.

You can take our two-minute survey online by following this link: Clean Cars Minnesota survey. We want to hear what’s important to you as we consider the Clean Cars Minnesota rule. 

Learn more about the rulemaking, public meetings, and how to provide comments on the MPCA’s Clean Cars webpage.  We also encourage you to sign up on our webpage to receive email updates on the rulemaking.  


Low-emitting facility general permit will expire

The MPCA is no longer accepting applications for the Part 70 Low-Emitting Facility (LEF) General Permit. The LEF Permit will be allowed to expire on April 30, 2020. Because of the rescission of “Once in always in” and the promulgation of additional conditionally exempt source categories in Minnesota Rules Chapter 7008, the MPCA does not plan to replace the LEF permit. The LEF general permit requires holders to apply for “permit reissuance” by November 2, 2019, which is 180 days before expiration of the current permit. Since the permit will not be reissued, if you hold the LEF permit, you should instead apply for a different permit option. If you haven’t applied yet, it’s important to do so as soon as possible, so MPCA staff  can process your request before the permit expires on April 30, 2020.

We expect most current LEF holders will now be eligible for a registration permit, or for one of the conditionally exempt source categories in Minn. R. chapter 7008. If you have any questions please contact Beckie Olson at 651-757-2123.


Air permit online submission service updates

Beginning July 1, 2020, applications to reissue individual air permits must be completed through the MPCA’s online service (e-Service). The application form is available now, and several applications have been successfully submitted. Sign up today!

Online submission makes permitting reviews faster by streamlining processes and decreasing data entry by populating forms with permitting data, thereby reducing 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 e-Service. Once in the e-Service, users will have access to help files for every page and field. If the help files do not have the information you need, contact the MPCA at

An e-Services account can be created at any time. Existing users can use the same account for reissuance applications that they already created for individual air administrative amendment applications.


New standards coming for cleaner wood heaters and stoves in Minnesota

People sitting around a backyard fire

Cool, crisp fall evenings invite many Minnesotans outdoors to enjoy backyard fire pits and fireplaces.  To minimize excess smoke and air pollution, the MPCA encourages using best wood-use management practices, like only burning clean, dry wood and keeping the fire small. Check out more on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Burn Wise website and the MPCA’s website Wood smoke: What you can do.

Cool weather also means the start of the home heating season.  Many Minnesotans heat their homes using wood.  When the incorporation by reference rule is completed (see Regulatory updates above), Minnesota will have adopted the federal standard for residential wood heaters and furnaces, giving it the effect of state law.  The standard establishes emission performance requirements for manufacturers of residential wood heating equipment.  It requires that new wood heaters sold at retail in the U.S. starting in May 2020 have a permanent label indicating they are certified to meet the new emission limits of the rule. This label will advise consumers that the heaters meet EPA standards. The rule also requires manufacturers to provide efficiency and carbon monoxide testing results, which will provide consumers additional information to help them select the best wood heater for their homes.  Minnesotans who are looking to purchase a new wood heater should look for these labels to make sure they are purchasing clean and efficient technology.

Because wood heaters can be serious polluters, especially in neighborhoods, this standard is a good first step in improving the technology.  The rule applies to only newly manufactured wood heaters, so it remains important for the state and local governments to ensure that all wood heaters are located away from property lines, installed with sufficient stack heights, and are burning clean dry wood.  The MPCA has a model ordinance available for local governments to use to address wood heaters, which is available on our website.

TCE alternatives identified

MnTAP logo

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a hazardous solvent that continues to be mentioned in the news. This summer, several companies started working with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) to find safer alternatives to TCE, and they are now receiving recommendations for onsite testing.

The TCE Alternatives project, funded by the EPA and MPCA’s Performance Partnership Grant, is providing no-cost assistance to large and small Minnesota businesses seeking to eliminate TCE from their processes. Participating businesses receive free technical assistance and testing to help them find a safer solvent or cleaning system that meets their process needs. Join the increasing number of companies that are making a positive step to eliminate this hazardous solvent from their facilities.

Recordings of the June 11, 2019 training event presented by MnTAP and the Toxics Use Reduction Institute are now available on the MnTAP website. The training includes information on the pros and cons of potential TCE alternatives as well as case studies for companies who have successfully eliminated TCE from their processes.

If you have questions regarding TCE use at your facility or if you want to see if there may be safer alternatives for your current process, contact Jane Paulson (, 612-624-1826).

Register now for the 2019 Minnesota Environmental Congress

2019 Environmental Congress on climate change

Intense flooding, higher temperatures, and more extreme storms – Minnesotans are already feeling the effects of our changing climate. As leading climate scientists urge swift and decisive action to safeguard our future, Minnesotans are engaging at all levels to advance leadership on climate change. Join us at the Environmental Congress to learn about innovative work happening across the state and explore ways to apply solutions in your community.

This free, daylong conference will include sessions on community preparedness, innovative practices in agriculture, transitioning to a low-carbon transportation system, protecting our water resources, and more. Participants will lead discussion groups in the afternoon and contribute ideas on how we can work together in new, equitable, and creative ways to take meaningful action. The congress is a space to harness the energy and hopes of fellow Minnesotans and cooperatively build a healthy future for our communities, wildlife, lands, waters, and air.

Learn more about the Congress on the Environmental Quality Board’s website.  Space is limited and preregistration is required; register here to reserve your spot.

Updated permitted facility air emissions data tool

Screen shot of permitted facilities emissions data tool

MPCA recently updated its permitted facility air emissions data tool with 2017 air toxics data. Dynamic maps, charts, and tables help users explore emissions of criteria air pollutants, air toxics, and greenhouse gases released by facilities across Minnesota.

Use this tool to:

  • Explore types and volumes of air pollutants emitted by permitted facilities
  • Identify highest-ranked emitters for specific pollutants
  • Investigate changes in quantity of pollutants emitted over time
  • Compare emission trends by industry type

Click here to explore the web tool.

New report on agricultural best management practices and greenhouse gas emissions

Farmer in the field

On October 15, 2019, the MPCA released the report, “Greenhouse gas reduction potential of agricultural best management practices,” in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Board of Water and Soil Resources.  The new report estimates the impact of 21 different agriculture best practices on greenhouse gas emissions. The range of emission reductions per acre may be small, but implementing best management practices across the 20 million acres of Minnesota cropland could reduce overall agriculture greenhouse gas emissions by 5-10%.

State agency staff and farmer at report announcement

Many Minnesota farmers already implement best management practices like planting windbreak trees and reducing tilling to protect soil health and water quality. Through best practices, agriculture can reduce emissions or even remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and be part of our climate solution.

A media event on October 17, 2019, outside Northfield featured host farmer Mike Peterson,  the director of the Board of Water and Soil Resources, and assistant commissioners from MPCA and the Department of Agriculture.  Read coverage of the event here.

State agencies release report on decarbonizing transportation in Minnesota

Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation in Minnesota report cover image

In September, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, in collaboration with MPCA and other state agencies, released a report called “Pathways to decarbonizing transportation in Minnesota.”  The report was the culmination of an effort to analyze ways of getting the transportation sector on track to meet the Next Generation Energy Act’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Over the summer, MnDOT, MPCA, and other agencies shared the analysis and talked with Minnesotans around the state about their priorities for a clean transportation future.  Several themes emerged from those conversations, including:

  • A recognition of the climate crisis and need for swift action
  • The need for more transportation options
  • Environmental justice and equity should be central to climate action
  • Integration of transportation solutions with energy creation, land use decisions, and state and local policy.

The report includes summaries of the analysis, the input, and recommendations for action.  Read the report on MnDOT’s website.

Reminder: Now is a great time to replace older diesel equipment and vehicles!

MPCA is seeking requests for proposals through two open grant opportunities to replace older diesel vehicles and equipment:

Electric school bus
  • $1.5 million is available to replace older diesel vehicles and equipment with all-new fully electric models.  This unique grant opportunity includes a variety of vehicles and equipment for both on-road use, such as trucks, transit buses, class 4-7 shuttles, and school buses, as well as off-road vehicles and equipment including forklifts, drayage trucks, and airport ground-support equipment. The MPCA is anticipating funding six new all-electric school buses to pilot this new technology in the state. Be one of the first school districts in Minnesota to wow your student riders with an all-new electric bus! For more information check out the heavy-duty electric grant webpage. The deadline to submit an application is Tuesday, November 19, 2019.Please note: A correction within Application Part 2 was posted on October 25.  Please use the most current version.
  • $1.2 million dollars is available for projects to replace or upgrade off-road diesel equipment in the marine, construction, rail, and other sectors. Owners can replace older diesel equipment or just their engines with new clean diesel, alternative fuel, or electric equipment and engines. For owners who are looking to save money on fuel used while idling, consider installing eligible idle-reduction technology on your off-road equipment. Check out the MPCA’s website for more information. The request for proposals for the off-road equipment replacement grant is Friday, December 6, 2019.

Both grant webpages include a recorded training session and a Frequently Asked Questions document to assist equipment owners in filling out applications.

Coming soon! Draft Phase 2 Plan for VW settlement funds

Milk hauler

Stay tuned for the Draft Phase 2 Plan for Minnesota’s VW settlement funds.  The draft plan will describe how the MPCA is proposing to invest $23.5 million from 2020-2023 in projects around the state to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles  and build out Minnesota’s electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.  Over the summer, Minnesotans provided recommendations at public meetings, in written comments, and through a survey that the MPCA is incorporating into the draft plan.

The draft plan will be available online for comment in early November at  The MPCA will hold public meetings around the state to discuss the draft plan.  To hear when the draft plan is released, receive information on public meetings and other ways to comment on the plan, and stay up to date on the VW settlement in Minnesota, sign up for the email list here.

New GreenCorps members start work to reduce air pollution around Minnesota

GreenCorps air program members

The Minnesota GreenCorps program is a statewide initiative, coordinated by the MPCA, to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals.  The program places AmeriCorps members with host organizations around the state to assist communities and local governments in addressing a variety of environmental needs.

A subset of GreenCorps members work on partner projects to reduce air pollution by decreasing energy use in buildings and vehicles. They also encourage the transition to clean energy sources for building operations and vehicle refueling, reduce emissions of air pollutants, and strengthen the resilience of communities through greater preparedness for Minnesota’s changing climate. 

Learn more about GreenCorps and the work of members and partner organizations on the MPCA’s website.

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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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