The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) held a special Citizens’ Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 27, to decide their plan to address haze pollution in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park, and Isle Royale National Park.
The plan being proposed by the MPCA recommends to the EPA how best to address haze pollution by limiting pollution from power plants and taconite plants, with the intention of clearing the air so that we can see the beautiful scenery in these parks and wilderness areas.
The plan proposes that we take advantage of an EPA loophole that will allow Minnesota to follow one EPA rule but not another. But by doing so, we are not fully protecting our national parks and wilderness areas from haze pollution, and we are not fully protecting human health! MinnPost.com posted a fairly clear article about the dilemma faced by this plan.
Fortunately, the board members seemed concerned with the plan’s impact on our natural environment. They asked many times why the MPCA was working on this plan rather than leaving it to the EPA to figure out. They also received valuable feedback from representatives from our parks as to why this plan was not acceptable.
Many of the power companies in the area testified that the limits set by the plan are within their power to achieve, although advocates from Friends of the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, Fresh Energy, and Sierra Club pointed out that the limits were not stringent enough to protect the our beautiful parks. Sierra Club intern Anders Arnevik joined other environmental advocates in calling upon the board to not pass the plan on to the EPA.
In the end, the board members voted to wait a month and process more information before deciding whether or not to recommend the plan to the EPA.