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Federal Implementation Plan for Taconite Facilities in Minnesota and Michigan

Contact Information

Air Division
Steven Rosenthal

On Jan. 15, 2013, EPA issued a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to set air pollution standards for six taconite facilities in Minnesota and one in Michigan. This plan will reduce pollutants that are harmful to people's health and impair visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. As directed by Congress, EPA is setting emission limits based on cost-effective control measures to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at these taconite facilities. EPA is also establishing associated compliance requirements, including a requirement to install and operate continuous air emission monitoring systems. EPA's action will improve air quality by reducing NOX emissions by about 22,000 tons per year and by reducing SO2 emissions by about 2,000 tons per year.

Protecting visibility in Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and other pristine areas in the Upper Peninsula will benefit Michigan's tourism industry, which contributes nearly $12 billion to the state economy each year. Similarly, protecting visibility in Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and other pristine areas along the North Shore will benefit Minnesota's tourism industry, which contributes nearly $10 billion to the state economy each year.

The affected facilities are:

  1. Tilden Mining Company, Mich.
  2. United States Steel Corporation, Keetac, Minn.
  3. Hibbing Taconite Company, Minn.
  4. United States Steel Corporation, Minntac , Minn.
  5. United Taconite, LLC, Minn.
  6. ArcelorMittal Minorca Mine, Inc. , Minn.
  7. Northshore Mining Company - Silver Bay, Minn.


The proposed rule was signed on July 15, 2012, and published in the Federal Register on Aug. 15, 2012.

Based on strong public interest, EPA held a public hearing in Minnesota. More than 1,200 comments were received.

Based on the comments and additional information received, EPA revised a number of elements in the final action, including certain emissions limits and compliance dates. The final rule includes the responses to comments.

Regional Haze

Congress directed EPA to reduce emissions that impair visibility at protected national parks and wilderness areas, known as Class I areas.

SO2, NOX, and particulate matter (PM) cause or contribute to visible haze in national parks and wilderness areas. These pollutants are also harmful to human health.

These seven taconite facilities impact four Class I areas (Isle Royale National Park, the Seney Wilderness Area, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Area and Voyageurs National Park) in Minnesota and Michigan.

Visibility improvements are measured in deciviews. A difference of 0.5 - 1.0 deciviews is generally a perceptible change. The total estimated cumulative visibility improvement from reduced NOX and SO2 emissions as a result of this action is about 28 deciviews. Of the four affected Class I areas, we have quantified the visibility improvements at three areas: 12.5 deciviews at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, 6.6 deciviews at Voyageurs National Park and 8.7 deciviews at Isle Royale.

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