On a clear day, you can see the BWCA

But yesterday wasn’t a clear day in southern Minnesota, as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air quality alert:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, Rochester, St. Cloud, Marshall, and Detroit Lakes areas for Thursday, December 17 through Friday, December 18.

Light southerly winds and local temperature inversions are encouraging fine particle transport and buildup in the region. As a result, Air Quality Index (AQI) levels in the Twin Cities are forecasted to be high-moderate on Thursday and unhealthy for sensitive groups on Friday, with an expected peak AQI of 105. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when actual AQI levels exceed 101.

That’s one day after the MPCA voted 7-1 to endorse a plan to reduce haze in northern MN, including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The Star Tribune reports that the plan is entirely too industry-friendly (read “weak”) to pass muster with groups concerned about BWCA air quality:

Environmental groups, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service said the proposal does not go far enough and is not on track to meet a federal goal to eliminate man-made haze by 2064. They faulted MPCA staff for relying too much on industry cost estimates, and claimed that more could be accomplished by requiring the most advanced pollution-control technology.

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