Does 2064 sound like a long time from now? It does to me and I for one would like to see the skies over the BWCA haze free sooner rather than later.
Minnesota PCA passes haze rules for northern parks
MCT Regional News
Wed Dec 16 2009
Byline: By John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.
Source: McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 16–The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has approved new regulations to curb haze air pollution over northern Minnesota, despite complaints of federal land managers and environmental groups that the rules don’t go far enough.
The agency’s board voted 7-1 for the measures, aimed at combating haze over pristine areas like Voyageurs National Park, Isle Royale National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that are protected under federal Clean Air Act rules.
Haze, while noticeable from higher elevations and vistas, can often go unnoticed over Minnesota lakes and forests, mistaken for thin clouds, fog or humidity. It’s often caused when nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide meet in the atmosphere, forming a chemical reaction that creates particles.
The rules may eventually affect coal-burning power plants and taconite plants in Minnesota, as well as pulp and paper mills and other industries that may be required to install new haze-cutting pollution-control technology.
PCA officials say the new rules are the first step toward cleaner skies over northern Minnesota, cutting 30,000 tons of the haze-causing emissions annually. They also said that emerging regulations to cut carbon emissions at power plants and other factories will force industry to cut haze as well — but that companies don’t want to make changes until new carbon regulations are clear.
"They don’t want to have to buy something and then rip it out when new regulations" are enacted, David Thornton, deputy PCA commissioner, told the board at its St. Paul meeting the day before the vote.
Thornton told board members Tuesday in St. Paul that the new rules are an effort to "balance the need to reduce haze with regional economic realities."
The rules must be approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which has ordered that air over national parks and wild lands should be haze-free by 2064.
But critics say the state plan wouldn’t clear the air for another 100 years after that.
In a rare public spat with their state counterparts, U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service officials have called the PCA rules lacking, asking the MPCA board to toughen requirements on taconite and coal-burning power plants.
Rick Rosvold, air-quality manager for Xcel Energy, said his utility already is moving to reduce emissions.