Small Business Enterprise - Spring edition

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Small Business Enterprise

News from the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program

In this issue

Success for Minnesota small businesses

The MPCA’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) has been educating businesses about new rules for small sources of air emissions, which became effective in January 2019. The rules allow businesses to avoid air permitting or terminate an existing air permit if they qualify as a conditionally exempt source or insignificant facility. Businesses may also be able to limit potential air emissions below permit thresholds with the changes made to the conditionally insignificant activities rules for material use and mechanical finishing.

Previously, a business that used a paint spray gun often required an air permit. For example, many auto body repair shops, machinery and metal part manufacturers, and cabinet companies held either a registration Option B or Option D air permit. The new rules have changed that!

The table below accounts for all registration permit terminations from January 2019 to March 2020. The data demonstrates 86% of the permit terminations can be attributed to the new small source rules.

Reasons for registration permit terminations

An additional 10 facilities, which held general or individual Part 70 permits, have also been able to qualify under the new rules and terminate their air permit. The new small source rules increased permit terminations by about 500%, in comparison to prior years.

Although we are unable to capture the total number of permits avoided, there were 44 conditionally exempt source notifications submitted by new or non-permitted businesses.

The new small source rules and assistance efforts from the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program has decreased the regulatory burden for many businesses by reducing costs and reporting requirements. However, these businesses continue to follow regulatory requirements that ensure good air pollution control practices and waste minimization that protect human health and the environment!

Coming soon: Grant for ethylene oxide emissions reduction

Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas and hazardous air pollutant. The human health risk for ethylene oxide has been updated by the EPA and demonstrates that it is more cancer-causing than previously identified.

Keep an eye out for grant opportunities to reduce or eliminate ethylene oxide emissions in Minnesota. Opportunities exist for businesses that have an ethylene oxide sterilization unit, such as those used for medical equipment. Ethylene oxide is also used in fumigation of spices and manufacturing of products.

Sign up to be notified when these grants open! 

Refrigerants: reducing harmful emissions

Refrigerants are used by nearly every small business. Refrigerators and air conditioners contain chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to create chilled air. Globally, these refrigerants have been recognized for their adverse impact on the ozone layer.

New equipment on the market is now charged with low global warming potential refrigerants. Some systems contain natural refrigerants, such as propane and ammonia. However, replacement of functional equipment is not a realistic solution for most businesses. The best practice for existing equipment is to manage refrigerant leaks. Regular maintenance and leak prevention increases the energy efficiency and extends the life of older equipment.

Effective disposal of refrigerants currently in circulation is vital, because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be filtered for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that do not cause warming.

Stay tuned for more information on how the Small Business Environmental Assistance team at MPCA can help you manage your refrigerants.

Commercial refrigeration: start saving today

Open Sign

Refrigeration can be one of the biggest drivers of energy use for small businesses, such as grocers, liquor stores, convenience stores, and restaurants.

The Xcel Energy Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency program makes it easy to upgrade refrigeration equipment, reduce energy costs, and receive rebates.

Do you need hazardous waste generator training?

Hazardous Waste Marine Corps

Classroom and online training is available! 

In the environmental compliance arena, training is key to understanding your regulatory requirements and responsibilities. Generally, any personnel who handle or manage hazardous waste as part of their position need to be trained based on what their duties require. For example, the environmental manager who oversees the hazardous waste management program should be thoroughly trained on all aspects of hazardous waste management, from hazardous waste determinations to signing manifests and emergency preparedness. However, the paint technician, who generates waste from paint-gun cleaning, may only need to be trained on container management elements and on knowing which items are hazardous waste.

Hazardous waste training requirements vary based on size of generator your facility is. A summary of the requirements by generator category can be found for very small quantity generators, small quantity generators, and large quantity generators.

Finally, if you don’t document the training, then how do you prove it was completed? Always document training by listing the using hazardous waste management training record.

Funding available for recycling market development

The MPCA is requesting proposals for recycling market development projects. There is $400,000 in funding available for projects that will build lasting capacity to support recycling markets in Minnesota.The goal is to increase recycling feedstock value, increase end market capacity, divert recyclable materials from disposal, and create jobs in Minnesota. Deadline for submission is May 29, 2020. Visit the MPCA web site for more information including eligibility requirements for applicants and projects. 

Regulatory flexibility at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Governor’s declaration of a state of peacetime emergency in Minnesota, MPCA is aware that regulated entities may be impacted from a reduced workforce necessary to maintain normal operations at some facilities. While all permittees and operators are expected to meet all terms and conditions of their permits, including conditions applicable to cessation of operations, MPCA has developed a regulatory flexibility process for those regulated entities that may have an unavoidable noncompliance situation, directly due to impact from COVID-19.

Loans available for counties affected by natural disasters

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Working Capital Disaster Loans are now available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and private nonprofit organizations located in Minnesota affected by three natural disasters. 

  • High winds and a tornado on Aug. 17 – 18, 2019
  • Excessive rain and flooding on April 11 through Nov. 30, 2019
  • Excessive rain, flooding and excessive snow beginning Sept. 21, 2019

Loans are available for specific counties based on the natural disaster event. Completed loan applications are to be submitted no later than Sept. 30, 2020.

More information

Visit for details. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to