EPA Might Step in on Haze Control

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may step in and require stricter regulations for reducing taconite plant plant emissions than plans proposed by Minnesota and Michigan. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) has been working on a plan to reduce haze in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park for seven years, but the EPA might impose tighter limits on nitrogen oxide (NOx).

The agency is considering requiring taconite plants to use a new “low NOx” burner that can cut emissions by up to 70 percent. The burner has been tested at U.S. Steel’s Minntac Plant, but some mining companies are arguing that the 45-day comment period for the EPA plan is too short to properly assess the feasibility of installing the burners.

According to an article on Minnesota Public Radio, attorneys for the mining company say that Minnesota and Michigan, which is charged with reducing haze over Isle Royale National Park, are better poised to regulate emissions. Environmental groups, however, contend that the states have had their chance and the EPA needed to step in. The state plan would also allow companies to trade their pollution allowances.

Research by the PCA indicates that two of Minnesota’s taconite plants contribute to more hazy days than Xcel Energy’s coal-fired power plant in Sherburne County. The largest taconite plant, Minntac, contributes to haze in the parks every other day, on average. The EPA has until November 15 to make  a decision. Read the full MPR article HERE.


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