Air Mail newsletter February 2021

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Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint released today

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop, along with state legislators, state agency leaders, and community advocates, will share Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint – a statewide strategy to prevent, manage, and clean up PFAS contamination. State agencies have developed a coordinated, strategic approach that protects Minnesota families and communities. The Blueprint identifies 10 priority areas that are centered on additional research, new health guidance, drinking water and food protection, and more tools for cleanup and prevention. This document does not include specific final policy or regulatory actions. It provides the starting point for an ongoing discussion with partners and stakeholders. 

With more than 5,000 structures and over 9,000 identified chemistries, PFAS are present in the environment and will remain so for generations. Less than one percent of PFAS have been tested for toxicity, but all PFAS are either extremely persistent in the environment or break down into extremely persistent PFAS.

Watch the PFAS Blueprint briefing live at 10 am on February 10, 2021. The Blueprint will be available after 10 am on the MPCA’s PFAS webpage.

Minnesota GreenCorps host site applications now being accepted

GreenCorps member in front of solar roof panels

Minnesota GreenCorps is an AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA plans to place up to 48 full-time members with host sites around the state for the upcoming program year, September 2021 through August 2022.

Organizations may apply to host Minnesota GreenCorps members who will serve on projects in:

  • Air pollutant reduction
  • Community readiness and outreach
  • Green infrastructure improvements
  • Waste reduction, recycling, and organics management

Past air pollution reduction projects have included wood-smoke education, building energy efficiency analysis and tracking, biking education, and transportation electrification efforts. Eligible host site organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not-for-profit institutions of higher education, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

For more information and to apply, visit MPCA’s GreenCorps webpage. You can read about past projects there, too. Questions? Email us at

Applications are due by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

High-emitting vehicle repair program grant

Car bumper with dual tailpipes

Did you know that almost half of total vehicle pollution is created by just 10% of the cars, SUVs, vans, and pick-up trucks on the road?

Grant funding is available to administer a program that will partner with auto repair shops, dealerships, and tech colleges to identify and fix high-emitting vehicles. The MPCA-sponsored program will offer free emission repairs on older vehicles in densely populated, low-income areas where more high-emitting, older vehicles are found.

Read more and apply on the MPCA’s vehicle repair grant webpage.

Coming soon: MPCA grants for battery-operated landscaping equipment

Person using electric chain saw

Gasoline-powered landscaping equipment is a significant source of air emissions in urban areas, impacting the health of equipment operators and the communities they serve.

MPCA grants have already helped 100 businesses and organizations switch to electric-powered equipment such as snow blowers, chainsaws, pole pruners, lawn mowers, string and hedge trimmers, and blowers.

Here’s why so many have already made the switch:

  • Saves money – buy less gas and reduce maintenance costs
  • Reduces employee injuries
  • Much quieter and eliminates smell
  • Improves community and employee health while reducing air emissions.

Sign up to be notified when these grants open. Apply on the MPCA webpage when they do.

Public comment opportunity for Clean Cars Minnesota

White car driving on snowy wooded highway

MPCA is moving forward with a rulemaking process to adopt two vehicle emissions standards that would apply to new vehicles for sale in Minnesota, beginning with model year 2025 (approximately January 2024). The standards would ensure that Minnesotans continue to have access to the cleanest models available, and more options for electric vehicles.

You have an opportunity to share your comments, questions and feedback with the presiding administrative law judge until March 15, 2021. You can choose one or both methods for sharing your input:

  1. Submit a written comment using the Office of Administrative Hearings e-Comments website
  2. Attend the public hearing online on February 22-23, 2021 and share your comment there

More information is available on the MPCA website: Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking

Share your transportation story

Statewide multimodal transportation plan

Share your stories about how transportation affects you or your organization to help MnDOT plan for maximizing the health of people, the environment, and the economy. Your input will help set the direction for all the ways we move around our state – on highways, walking, biking, hauling freight, and more.

Click on either (or both!) of these links to share your transportation story:

Your story will help MnDOT update the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, which sets policy guidance for transportation for the next 20 years. The plan covers all people – including you! Watch this short video to learn more.

How does transportation impact us in Minnesota? Here’s an example: the transportation sector is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in our state and the U.S., and we are not on track to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals required by Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act. MnDOT is summarizing the latest research on transportation and air quality – and many other topics – in the Minnesota GO trend library. Come back often, as updated summaries are being added monthly.

Learn more about the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan at

New report available: The air we breathe

The air we breathe report cover

Minnesota’s air quality is generally good, but it is not the same across the state and doesn’t affect all Minnesotans equally.

That’s one of the messages in the MPCA’s biennial report to the Legislature on the state’s air quality, titled The air we breathe. Every two years, the report tracks trends and highlights emerging issues in air quality.

This year’s report focuses on environmental justice. Discriminatory policies of the past mean Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low-income residents in Minnesota are more likely to live near industrial facilities and other sources of harmful air pollution. Reductions in air pollution from industrial facilities as well as transportation and neighborhood sources, particularly in areas of concern for environmental justice, are necessary to protect health.

The report also tracks emissions of mercury in Minnesota. As previous reports have noted, although we’ve cut mercury emissions from power generation significantly, the state is not projected to meet the 2025 reduction goal of the 2009 statewide TMDL for mercury. To meet that goal, significant reductions are still needed from the taconite mining sector and mercury in products.

New data on climate-changing pollution in Minnesota

GHG report cover

The 2021 Greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a joint report to the Minnesota Legislature from the MPCA and Department of Commerce, presents the latest data for climate-changing emissions in Minnesota – and the outlook is not good. Between 2005 and 2018, emissions decreased by just eight percent overall, falling far short of the progress needed to reach Minnesota’s upcoming target of reducing emissions by 30% by 2025.

For a deeper dive into the data and a conversation about the current impacts of climate change in Minnesota, check out the latest Our Minnesota Climate forum from January 2021, “Climate snapshot: emissions and impacts.” You can find the recorded video on the Our Minnesota Climate website: Get involved.

Air permit application tracker revamped

Map of Minnesota

The MPCA’s air permit application tracker is an interactive tool that shows the facility location and status of air quality permit applications. A map shows the locations of facilities that have submitted air permit applications. Information about each application is provided in a table below the map.

Filter and sort the applications by type of air permit, status of the application, date the MPCA received the application, whether the permit is required to be put on public notice, and whether the facility is located in an area of concern for environmental justice. Search by facility name, city, county, or zip code.

Common questions about the permitting process and how to use the tool are addressed in the tool. The information in the tool is refreshed weekly.

Contact Rachel Fossum at or 651-757-2863 with questions or comments about the air permit application tracker.

Workshop recordings available: building collaborative partnerships

An online workshop was convened in September 2020 to demonstrate the tools and practices needed for effective and authentic engagement, and generate deeper understanding between regulators, facilities, and community. In partnership with the US EPA, the workshop was planned and presented by a diverse team of community members, facility representatives, non-profits, and federal, state, city, and tribal governments, including staff from MPCA air programs. Over 300 people attended the virtual meeting from across Minnesota and 38 states. 

The MPCA’s webpage for air permit commenting and engagement will be updated to include curated information about engagement from the workshop. In the meantime, you can download transcripts for each of the sessions or watch the recordings on YouTube:  


EPA will enforce new wood stove sales rules

Paul Bunyan and Babe upgrade their wood stove

When we burn wood to heat our homes and businesses, we create air pollution that can lead to serious health concerns. Using wood-burning appliances that are designed to pollute less helps improve air quality and protect our health. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted standards that make wood-burning appliances such as residential wood stoves, hydronic heaters, and forced air wood furnaces significantly cleaner.

The standards require new wood-burning appliances to meet certain pollution limits and be certified that they do so. The standards were rolled-out in two steps: Step 1 went into effect in May 2015 and Step 2 went into effect five years later in May 2020. The MPCA conducted significant outreach to manufacturers and sellers in Minnesota and elsewhere in the summer of 2020 alerting them that Step 1 certifications are no longer valid and they can only sell Step 2 certified wood-burning appliances in Minnesota. Although enforcement of the Step 2 standards had been a low priority for the EPA, the federal agency announced on January 19, 2021, that the “low enforcement priority regarding the sale of non-compliant Step 1-certified residential wood heating devices is no longer in effect.” This means it remains a violation to sell stoves that are not Step-2 compliant in Minnesota, and the EPA will be enforcing this rule nationwide.

If you are buying or selling a new wood stove, make sure it is certified to meet the EPA’s 2020 Step 2 standards. Further information can be found on the MPCA’s cleaner burning appliances webpage.

Court decides ACE rule unlawfully adopted

On January 19, 2021 a federal court vacated the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule and remanded it back to the EPA.

The court decided EPA did not act lawfully in adopting the 2019 ACE rule as a means of regulating emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants. In addition, the court said the ACE rule’s amendment of the regulatory framework to slow the process for emissions reductions was “arbitrary and capricious,” and vacated the amendments that extended the compliance timeline.

The MPCA will be exploring what this ruling means for control of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity-generating power plants. We will keep stakeholders in the loop on conversations and whatever avenues the agency explores.

Questions or comments are encouraged and can be directed to

Flawed EPA transparency rule struck down

On February 1, 2021, at the request of the EPA, a federal court vacated EPA’s “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Information” rule and remanded it back to the EPA. This rule sought to place restrictive standards on the scientific data that is reviewed and considered during EPA rulemaking.

The MPCA and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) were particularly concerned about this rule because it would have limited the EPA’s ability to use epidemiological and other public health studies when setting health-based environmental quality standards.

The MPCA and MDH have been tracking this rule since it was proposed in 2018 and have provided multiple rounds of comments to the EPA detailing our concerns. Those comments are available on MPCA’s webpage responding to federal actions. The MPCA will continue to track EPA’s actions on this rule.

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Air Mail is a quarterly email 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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