EPA issues rules to cut haze over Voyageurs, BWCA
The low-NOx technology has been tested at U.S. Steel's Minntac operations in Mountain Iron and apparently worked well there, state officials have said.
Environmental groups that campaigned to require the state-of-the-art emissions controls for taconite plants pointed out to regulators that, in addition to impairing visibility, haze pollutants contribute to heart attacks, asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis and respiratory illnesses.
Among the groups active in trying to shape the regulations was the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Its legal director, Kevin Reuther, told the AP he had not had a chance to study the final rule and could not comment on it Thursday.
Cliffs Natural Resources, which runs three of the affected taconite operations in Minnesota, also needs more time before it can comment, company spokeswoman Sandy Karnowski told AP.
Park haze rules aimed at the region's coal-fired power plants are proceeding separately.
The MCEA and five other clean air groups sued the EPA in December, seeking a court order requiring the federal agency to mandate that Xcel Energy install the "best available retrofit technology" to reduce emissions at Minnesota's biggest power plant, the coal-fired Sherco plant near Becker. The groups said the state's plan for Sherco is inadequate because it doesn't require BART.
Xcel Energy has said the $50 million it's investing in improvements to cut Sherco's emissions is sufficient. The utility also denies that Sherco contributes to haze affecting the two parks and the BWCA.
EPA site on haze rules for taconite plants: http://www.epa.gov/region5/air/taconite
MPCA regional haze site: http://bit.ly/VMZ696