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New Air Quality Rules for Mercury Air Emission Reduction and Reporting Requirements

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has amended its air quality rules related to mercury air emissions reduction and reporting. The MPCA plans for the notice of adoption of these new rules to be published in the State Register on September 22, 2014. The new rules would then become effective September 29, 2014.

Two-thirds of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are impaired due to mercury. Most of this mercury is deposited from the air. Minnesota’s Statewide Mercury Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study evaluated surface waters contaminated by mercury. The study established pollution reduction goals for facilities within Minnesota releasing mercury to both water and the air to do their share to restore surface waters to meet water quality standards. The TMDL was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 and established a need for a 93 percent reduction in mercury air emissions from 1990 baseline mercury emissions. The new rules, as described below, implement the mercury reduction activities identified in the PDF Document Minnesota Statewide Mercury TMDL Implementation Plan (wq-iw4-01p) .

Background

On December 2, 2013, the MPCA formally proposed to adopt amendments to rules relating to mercury air emissions reporting and reduction; Minnesota Rules Chapters 7005, 7007, 7011, and 7019. As identified in the Public Notice, the proposed rule amendments established requirements for certain sources of mercury air emissions to bring both public and privately owned facilities into line with the Statewide Mercury TMDL reduction goals. Described below are the three main parts of the rule amendments the MPCA proposed to accomplish these reductions. For more information about the proposed amendments, please refer to the Statement of Need and Reasonableness.

  1. Mercury Reduction Plans. Affected facilities must prepare mercury reduction plans for approval and inclusion in a permit or other enforceable document. The rules identify what the reduction plan must include, and establish a schedule for plan submittal for each source category to identify how they will reduce mercury emissions.
  2. Performance Standards. Certain facilities are required to meet performance standards for mercury control. In general, these facilities are already required to meet federal performance standard requirements. This portion of the rules does not impose any new emission reductions or costs beyond what is already required by state statutes or federal standards. 
  3. Emission Inventory for Mercury. The rule requires facilities to submit a mercury emission inventory to the MPCA. This impacts 35 or fewer facilities. The MPCA currently compiles a voluntary mercury inventory every three years. The rule requires annual emission reporting from the largest sources; small sources with actual emissions less than three pounds per year will continue with the three year inventory. 

The MPCA received 14 written comments in response to the Public Notice. No hearing was held on the proposed rules because the MPCA did not receive the required number of requests. The MPCA made changes to the proposed rules as a result of the comments received during the public comment period. The changes to the proposed rules are presented in the Order Adopting Rules. The MPCA’s response to other comments received that did not result in rule changes is found in the MPCA’s Response to Comments.

The MPCA submitted the rules to the Office of Administrative Hearings on July 16, 2014. On July 30, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ann O’Reilly issued her Report approving the rules. ALJ O’Reilly found that the proposed rule amendments, as modified by the MPCA in response to comments received, were necessary and reasonable. ALJ O’Reilly also recommended several changes solely for clarity in the rules. These are identified in the ALJ Report. The MPCA agreed that these changes improve the clarity of the rule and made changes where specific rule changes were recommended.

Schedule

Task

Date(s)

Publish request for comments

July 27, 2009

Stakeholder engagement

Preliminary Draft #1 — A stakeholder meeting was held November 2010 and a preliminary draft of the rule was shared.

Industry Sector Meetings — Industry specific stakeholder meetings were held in advance of the July 31, 2012 TMDL stakeholder group meeting.  The purpose of these meetings was to share only performance standard rule language being considered for that sector.  The four industry sector meetings were held on the following dates:

  • Crematoria — February 28, 2012, MPCA St. Paul
  • Iron and steel plants — February 29, 2012, MPCA St. Paul
  • Taconite — March 7, 2012, MPCA St. Paul and Duluth
  • Mercury recycling/lamp recycling — April 16, 2012, MPCA St. Paul

Publish Dual Notice

December 2, 2013

Post-comment period/Administrative Law Judge review

By July 16, 2014

Submit the rules to the Office of Administrative Hearings for review by the Administrative Law Judge. In general, the Office of Administrative Hearings will approve, disapprove, or recommend rule changes without disapproving the rule.

Adoption of Rules

September 22, 2014

Links to Related Materials

Minnesota Statutes and Rules

  • Minnesota Statutes – Powers and Duties (116.07)
  • Minnesota Rules – Definitions and Abbreviations (Chapter 7005)
  • Minnesota Rules – Permits and Offsets, Air Emission Permits (Chapter 7007)
  • Minnesota Rules – Standards for Stationary Sources (Chapter 7011)
  • Minnesota Rules – Emission Inventory Requirements (Chapter 7019)

Contact information

For questions about the Mercury Program:

Rebecca Place
rebecca.place@state.mn.us
651-757-2897

For questions about the status of the rulemaking or rulemaking process:

Mary H Lynn
mary.lynn@state.mn.us
651-757-2439

Last modified on September 12, 2014 14:50

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