Heavy Minn. greenhouse gas polluters required to report emissions

Ethanol plant
An ethanol plant in southwestern Minnesota in a file photo. About 300 companies around Minnesota face a permanent rule requiring them to report their greenhouse gas emissions.
MPR File Photo/Mark Steil

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is set to finalize a rule that requires industries that emit more than 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year to report their emissions.

The agency says it's a step toward cutting down on Minnesota's contribution to global warming.

The rule will require permits to emit any of six gases that cause global warming — but only for large emitters — a total of about 300 facilities around the state.

The MPCA's rule writer Barbara Conti said few businesses will see an immediate change, but as the federal government rolls out new standards, some might have to change their operations.

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"The permit is a way to gather the information about them and look at what regulatory actions those facilities need to take to be in compliance with state and federal laws," Conti said.

The MPCA is finalizing a temporary rule to conform to federal requirements to report on carbon dioxide and other global warming gases. Conti said limits on other pollutants are based on safe exposure levels.

"I would think in the long term we would be looking to see that same type of framework for greenhouse gases, but it's still early stages," Conti said. "There's no standard add-on control equipment for this pollutant, unlike say sulfur dioxide or oxides of nitrogen."

Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the federal Environmental Protection Agency determined in 2007 that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Conti said the agency received many comments urging the state to require prompt reductions in greenhouse gases.

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