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Those who participated in the Environmental Initiative’s Clean Air Dialogue said identifying the problems was easy. Figuring out how to solve them, however, was not.
Thornton said the group wrestled with wood burning, including back-yard fires. “It’s used as a form of recreation and enjoyment.” he said. “There is a real tug and pull between what we know and what we like.”
In a way, it would be easier to force change if this were Beijing, with its overwhelming air pollution problems, said John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association. “How do you motivate changes in behavior when you don’t have an imminent problem?” he said.
That’s why the recommendations will be based on voluntary actions. They include improving the urban forest to filter dirty air, a rebate program for old leaf blowers and lawn mowers, incentives for fleets to switch to alternative fuels like natural gas, getting old cars off the road, and model city ordinances to manage wood burning systems.
Then, the question is how to pay for it. Gov. Mark Dayton included $900,000 for clean air initiatives in the MPCA budget, but that’s still under debate at the Legislature. By next year the group should have some concrete proposals for lawmakers, because Harley said, “We need money.”
Josephine Marcotty • 612-673-7394