Thanks to enforcement of the Clean Air Act by the state and federal governments as well as the actions of an increasingly engaged and informed citizenry, Minnesota’s air quality has consistently improved. However, in response to our increasing understanding of the serious health effects of air pollution at even low levels, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to finalize new, more stringent standards for all six pollutants that have National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The 2011 legislative report focuses on the new standards for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and lead. It discusses the potential ramifications for Minnesota of the new standards and the work that is being done to decrease emissions of these pollutants. These new standards – along with new reporting and permitting regulations for greenhouse gases and the need to reduce the risks posed by air toxics such as diesel particulate, formaldehyde, acrolein, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins/furans and mercury – will present a unique challenge for MPCA in coming years.
The MPCA will need to find ways to reduce air emissions from sources not traditionally regulated in order to reduce health risks and meet federal standards. This will be achieved by leveraging community outreach, voluntary programs and partnerships, as well as through traditional regulatory methods.
This report fulfills MPCA’s requirement to report to the Minnesota Legislature every two years on the status of toxic air contaminants and to analyze the MPCA’s strategies to reduce air pollutants. (Minn. Stat. §§ 115D.15 and 116.925) The report provides an update on MPCA programs and strategies introduced in the 2009 Air Quality Legislative Report.