Air Quality: Improve air quality by reducing emissions of pollutants that harm human health and the environment.
Air pollution impacts human health and the environment and the City of Minneapolis is concerned at both the local and regional levels. Locally, the City is concerned about the effects pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), lead and air toxics have on human health, the environment and the climate. Health effects include asthma and respiratory conditions, as well as cancer and other serious diseases. The City of Minneapolis performs many functions to improve air quality, such as collecting air samples, analyzing them for pollutants, and using the results to inform policy decisions. The City’s Green Business Cost Share Program focuses on reducing air pollution from small businesses such as dry cleaners and auto body shops by providing funds to switch to nontoxic or low-toxicity chemical alternatives. In addition, the City provides funds to help businesses and multiresidential units reduce their nonrenewable energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through energy retrofits, including solar panels.
Minneapolis and the businesses operating in the city must also meet regional air quality standards or face financial implications. With the passage of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set standards for limiting specific air pollutants, referred to as “criteria air pollutants.” The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) continuously monitors criteria air pollutants statewide; if it identifies a criteria air pollutant above its standard, that area of the state may be declared in “nonattainment” for meeting the standard. The state uses data to determine the specific sources or source categories that are primary contributors to the nonattainment, and it must submit a plan to the EPA for returning to attainment that includes enforceable limits and controls on these sources. If businesses in Minneapolis are identified, they may face financial implications.
The City will seek to accomplish the following action steps to improve air quality by reducing emissions of pollutants that harm human health and the environment.
- Reduce vehicle-related emissions through transportation and land use policies that result in fewer vehicle miles traveled.
- Ensure compliance with regional air quality standards for criteria air pollutants (O3, lead, PM, NO2, SO2 and CO) throughout the city through education, outreach, air sampling and data-driven policies, as well as cost-share initiatives that encourage businesses and residents to use greener technologies.
- Eliminate the use of some of the most common industrial volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as tetrachloroethylene (perc, PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), through cost-sharing programs and the promotion of alternative products in industrial sectors.
- Reduce emissions from energy sources through cost-sharing programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in Minneapolis.
- Reduce benzene emissions from gas stations through installation of advanced vapor recovery technology.
- Keep levels of ground-level ozone and particulate matter at or below the lowest levels recommended by the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
- Minimize ground-level ozone by monitoring for VOCs and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and using the results to inform programs that locate and effectively reduce emissions from industrial and other sources.
- Use data from 311 complaints to improve the effectiveness of air quality initiatives.
- Improve enforcement of noise, after-hours work and dust ordinances.