New research reinforces need for emissions reductions, Clean Air Minnesota

Over the past several weeks, new research has added to growing bodies of evidence demonstrating the catastrophic consequences of air pollution and inequitable distribution of impacts along racial and socioeconomic lines. Each time studies like these are published, it is a reminder of the importance of voluntary, pollution-reducing and economy stimulating activities underway through Clean Air Minnesota (CAM).

Beginning to address disparities

Over the past two years, CAM and its partners have continued working to proactively reduce sources of fine particulate matter (soot) and ground-level ozone (smog) precursors. Recognizing that Minnesota’s air quality challenges are intertwined with the economy and often play out along lines of racial and socioeconomic disparity, efforts were made to engage underrepresented perspectives and front-line communities more meaningfully in CAM’s work.

One of the best examples of this new focus on work in historically underrepresented communities, areas of poorer air quality, and with equity-focused groups, is CAM’s project and education work in North Minneapolis. CAM partnered with the Environmental Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the City of Minneapolis to help recruit local businesses in the city to participate in voluntary emission-reduction projects like upgrading autobody paint booths to safer alternatives.

This is just a start. Continuing to expand the partnership to incorporate the expertise and experiences of those disproportionately impacted by poor air quality will be a major focus of our work in 2022 and beyond.

Reducing emissions through collaboration

Individual partner organizations manage projects and initiatives to reduce emissions and they are and tracked through Clean Air Minnesota’s project teams.

Over the past two years, emissions have been reduced by the following:

  • PM 2.5 – 370 tons
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) – 75 tons
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – 190 tons

Currently, partners (including us) are focusing on reducing pollution from mobile sources (like cars, trucks, and diesel vehicles), area sources (smaller, less regulated businesses like dry cleaners and autobody shops), and wood smoke. These sources make up roughly 75 percent of air pollution emissions in Minnesota.

What’s next for Clean Air Minnesota?

More than 50 organizations have people participating as active members of the collaboration. However, most of our partners are in the Twin Cities and from white-led organizations. We know access to clean air is not equal, with studies referenced earlier in the post clearly demonstrating that people of color in America live with more pollution than their white counterparts.

Recent strategic planning efforts by both CAM and Environmental Initiative call for the centering and engagement of those most impacted by air pollution. We have designed the next several years of work together through Clean Air Minnesota to engage frontline communities. Partners will also target emission reduction activities in geographies and towards sources that need it most.

We do not have all the answers and we need your ideas. If you are interested in learning more, contact Bill Droessler, Partnership Development Officer, or sign up for the CAM quarterly newsletter.