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EPA issues rules to cut haze over Voyageurs, BWCA

Published 9:18am Friday, January 18, 2013

DULUTH — Federal regulators have issued final regulations aimed at reducing pollution from taconite processing plants that causes haze over northern Minnesota’s wild areas including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, as well as Isle Royal National Park in Michigan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the plan will cut pollutants that not only affect visibility at times in the national parks and wilderness area, but are also harmful to human health.

The EPA said the regulations are expected to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, by about 22,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide emissions by about 2,000 tons, resulting in noticeably clearer air on many days.

The 202-page final rule will force some taconite operations to add expensive new equipment to curb nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, the Duluth News Tribune reported Thursday.

The rule, signed by EPA chief Lisa Jackson on Tuesday, affect all six taconite operations in Minnesota as well as the lone taconite operation on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. New taconite plants would also be expected to meet the standards.