Environmental group prompted by tightening rules on air qualityby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A public meeting today is billed as the beginning of a community dialog about how Minnesota can continue to meet tightening federal air quality standards.
Minnesota's air is relatively clean, compared to some other states, but federal rules on smog and soot are likely to get more stringent. Researchers say much smaller amounts of pollution than previously thought can cause serious health problems.
It's a good news-bad news situation, said Mike Harley of the Environmental Initiative, a group that gets businesses and non-profits to collaborate on environmental problems.
"Our air quality has been improving, thanks to the efforts of industry and regulation," Harley said. "But at the same time, tightening of standards may require that we do new things."
That could involve clean-up efforts at small operations like body shops and printing firms, and even retrofitting older diesel trucks, Harley said.
The public meeting complements efforts by interest groups to come up with fair and cost-effective ideas to cut smog and soot.
"Let's start planning now; let's come up with strategies to improve air quality," Harley said. "If we remain in compliance, so much the better. Our air is that much cleaner. There are health and economic benefits to having done those things and if we do violate those standards, we have a leg up when it comes to responding."