MPCA votes to reduce BWCAW haze


ST. PAUL — Complex rules aimed at reducing haze over Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness were approved Tuesday by the citizen’s board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The board, which oversees the agency, unanimously voted to send the rules to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

The rules are part of an EPA effort to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. The haze over Voyageurs and the BWCAW comes mostly from nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide from Minnesota’s coal-fired power plants and taconite plants. That haze also drifts over Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

The rules approved Tuesday were looser than the state agency’s staff originally proposed. They were eased after Cliffs Natural Resources officials said the Hibbing Taconite and United Taconite plants would have trouble complying with proposed nitrogen oxide limits. The board deferred a vote at last month’s meeting to give staff members more time to work with the company.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, urged the board to reject the rules, saying they don’t make enough progress toward the goals of cleaning up the air over national parks and wilderness areas or protecting the health of all Minnesotans.

The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service also have said that the plan won’t cut haze enough.

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