Government Agency

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Website:

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/

Location:

St. Paul, Minnesota

Organization:

State Government Agency

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is an agency of the State of Minnesota that regulates air, water, and soil pollution in the state. [1] In addition, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency implements federal National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at the direction of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [2]

In 2020, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was the focal point of a controversy between Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D-MN) and Republican state legislators. The controversy involved a dispute over Gov. Walz’s decision to shift the MPCA’s tailpipe emission regulations from the federal standard to the more restrictive California standards, with Republican legislators raising concerns about how the shift will impact the affordability of internal combustion vehicles. [3]

History

In 1963, in response to an industrial oil spill that led to water pollution in the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, the Minnesota Water Pollution Control Commission was given authority to regulate groundwater contamination levels. [4] In 1967, the Minnesota legislature established Minnesota Pollution Control Agency with a broader mandate to regulate soil, water, and air pollution levels. [5]

Under Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) the MPCA has shifted away from its traditional mandate of keeping Minnesota’s natural environment safe from pollution to pursuing programs that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over and above federally mandated levels [6] as well as race-focused environmental policies. [7]

Race-Focused Policies

In 2018 the MPCA adopted a policy to shift the agency’s focus to address environmental issues that specifically concern minority communities in Minnesota. [8] The policy requires the MPCA to include a review in each regulation it issues to include an “equity impact” section that surveys how the regulation impacts minority communities. [9]

In addition, the policy requires the MPCA to engage in public meetings and digital outreach efforts to craft and tailor its policies based on the specific concerns of minority communities through “targeted engagement” policies. [10]

In addition, the race focused policies adopted the MPCA require it to increase hiring from minority communities as part of its broader “diversity engagement” policies. [11]

California Tailpipe Regulations

In 2021, MPCA adopted the California Air Resources Board tailpipe emissions regulations, which set automobile emissions levels at higher levels than those set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. [12]

Opponents of these policies argue that stricter tailpipe emission regulations increase the cost of producing internal combustion vehicles, bringer their price closer to that of electric vehicles, in effect preventing the market from producing more affordable vehicles. [13] Scott Lambert, the president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, has commented that “[t]he California Rule puts California bureaucrats in charge of Minnesota industry, and they will impose an artificial supply mandate on the Minnesota marketplace and put Minnesota on track for an outright ban on the sale of combustible engine vehicles.” [14]

References

  1. “About” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  https://www.pca.state.mn.us/about ^
  2. “Minnesota State Implementation Plan (SIP)” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/minnesota-state-implementation-plan-sip ^
  3. Karnowski, Steve. “Republican senators detail complaints in job review of MPCA leader” TwinCities.Com August 24, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.twincities.com/2020/08/24/republican-senators-detail-complaints-in-job-review-of-mpca-leader/ ^
  4. Manulik, Joseph. “Mississippi River Oil Spill, 1962–1963.” MNopedia-Minnesota Historical Society. http://www.mnopedia.org/event/mississippi-river-oil-spill-1962-1963.  Accessed July 29, 2022. ^
  5. Karnowski, Steve. “Republican senators detail complaints in job review of MPCA leader” TwinCities.Com August 24, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.twincities.com/2020/08/24/republican-senators-detail-complaints-in-job-review-of-mpca-leader/ ^
  6. Karnowski, Steve. “Republican senators detail complaints in job review of MPCA leader” TwinCities.Com August 24, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.twincities.com/2020/08/24/republican-senators-detail-complaints-in-job-review-of-mpca-leader/ ^
  7. “Environmental Justice Framework-2022” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-gen5-05.pdf ^
  8. “Environmental Justice Framework-2022” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-gen5-05.pdf ^
  9. “Environmental Justice Framework-2022” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-gen5-05.pdf ^
  10. “Environmental Justice Framework-2022” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-gen5-05.pdf ^
  11. “Environmental Justice Framework-2022” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-gen5-05.pdf ^
  12. “Minnesota adopts California emissions standards” electrive.com July 28, 2021. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.electrive.com/2021/07/28/minnesota-adopts-california-emissions-standards/ ^
  13. “Minnesota adopts California emissions standards” electrive.com July 28, 2021. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.electrive.com/2021/07/28/minnesota-adopts-california-emissions-standards/ ^
  14. “Minnesota adopts California emissions standards” electrive.com July 28, 2021. Accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.electrive.com/2021/07/28/minnesota-adopts-california-emissions-standards/ ^
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