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Revisor ID: R-04805

The MPCA has begun work to implement a new groundbreaking law to remedy Minnesotans’ disproportionate exposure to pollutants. The law defines environmental justice areas and requires the MPCA to conduct a rulemaking process to address the cumulative impacts of pollution during permitting processes.

For many neighborhoods and communities in Minnesota, decades-old permitting and zoning decisions by local, state, and federal governments have resulted in heavily polluting industrial and manufacturing facilities located near homes, schools, and parks.

As part of the law, the Legislature requires the MPCA to develop criteria for requiring a cumulative impact analysis and its content, define a substantial adverse environmental and health impact, establish the structure of a community benefits agreement and process, and ensure permit applicants have access to social and environmental factors, including elevated rates of disease, poor access to health insurance and medical care, and food insecurity.

These criteria, standards, agreements, and processes will be developed through the state’s thorough and lengthy rulemaking process.

15376: GovDelivery: rulemaking cumulative impacts MNPCA_523
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Sign up for updates about the cumulative impacts rulemaking process and opportunities for public input.

Procedural rulemaking documents

July 2023

Rulemaking schedule

July 24, 2023Request for Comments published in the State Register; public comment period closed Oct. 6, 2023
January-May 2024

Co-learning community conversations

June-October 2024Working sessions on key rule topics
Late 2024Establish and share key rule concepts
2025Draft rule text and supporting technical and economic analysis
No later than May 18, 2026Publish notice of hearing and draft rule text in State Register 
TBDFinal adoption of rules

Newly defined environmental justice areas

For the first time, the Legislature defined an environmental justice area in Minnesota law. These areas are the focal points for developing Minnesota’s cumulative impact analysis criteria and processes for some air permit decisions. An environmental justice area is one or more census tracts — small, permanent subdivisions of a county or city — meeting any of the following criteria:

  • 40% or more of the population is nonwhite.
  • 35% or more of the households have an income at or below 200% of poverty ($60,000 for a family of four).
  • 40% or more of the population over the age of five has limited English proficiency.
  • Located within Indian Country.

The MPCA must use these criteria for the cumulative impact rulemaking, which only impact the Twin Cities seven-county metro area and the cities of Duluth and Rochester. The MPCA has developed maps for the Twin Cities metro, Duluth and Rochester that show environmental justice areas and one-mile buffer zones.

More than 120 facilities possibly impacted. The cumulative impacts law applies to new facilities as well as some current facilities that are expanding or need to renew an air permit. Based on the Legislature’s criteria for environmental justice areas and types of air permits, approximately 123 current facilities, including landfills, power plants, refineries, and manufacturing plants, may be impacted by this new law.

15376: Co-learning community conversations - Cumulative impacts
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Co-learning community conversations

Attend an upcoming community event to learn more about cumulative impacts, and how you can get involved in this rulemaking process.