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Cottage Grove backs MPCA air changes

In an effort to reduce mercury emissions and continue to limit the amount of pollutants released into the air and water, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing amendments to four state rules relating to air quality.

The city of Cottage Grove, which is a member of the MPCA’s GreenStep Cities, recently submitted a letter supporting the changes.

According to the MPCA, about one-third of the state’s lakes and rivers are impaired because of mercury. In a 40-page document the agency lists the proposed amendments which address three main points – mercury reduction plans, performance standards and emission inventory.

“These amendments will reduce the deposition of mercury into Minnesota’s lakes and rivers resulting in improved water quality, reduced impacts on fish and other aquatic creatures, and a higher quality of life for the citizens of Cottage Grove and the state of Minnesota,” Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey wrote in the letter.

Relating to reduction plans, the MPCA said “facilities must prepare mercury reduction plants to meet their sector’s specified reduction target, stated within the (Total Maximum Daily Loads) Implementation Plan.” The plan also must include a “schedule for plan submittal for each source category to identify how they will reduce mercury emissions.”

The amendment also proposes that facilities should strive to meet the statewide emission goal of 789 pounds per year by the end of 2025.

Performance standards are another monitoring system the MPCA uses to determine if facilities are within legal emission parameters. The amendment requires regular performance tests and the “initial performance test must be conducted for 30 boiler days.”

“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,” the MPCA wrote on their website.

The third section of amendments deals with emission inventory. Currently, the MPCA requires facilities to submit a mercury emission inventory every three years. The proposed amendment says operators of an emission source “must submit an annual emission inventory report of the mercury emissions to the commissioner in a format specified by the commissioner. The report must be submitted on or before April 1 of the year following the year being reported.”

The amendment also added that operators of stationary sources with mercury emissions but are not mercury emission sources must report every three years.

If approved, the amendments would also require facilities to fall in line with the statewide mercury reduction goals.

The proposed amendments are currently available for public viewing and the MPCA is collecting public comment through Jan. 17. Comments can be submitted in writing.