Burning Wood Pollutes More than Coal-Fired Power Plants and Factories in Minnesota, Should We Ban Campfires?

Most people in Minnesota probably don’t realize that our air is incredibly clean. According to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency data, our air meets all federal air quality standards, which are designed to be protective of even the most vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

In fact, none of the categories of pollutants measured (ozone, fine particulates, lead, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, or sulfur dioxide) were even a risk for exceedance. In a nutshell, it means our air is impeccably clean.

Despite this fact, many renewable energy groups want to shut down our coal-fired power plants in order to reduce emissions even further. However, the MPCA data show that burning wood and other neighborhood sources contribute 66 percent more to particulates in the air than our factories and power plants.

In fact, pollution from coal-fired power plants has plummeted despite the fact that our power plants are still churning out large quantities of affordable, reliable electricity. The graph below show sulfur dioxide emissions from the Clay Boswell power plant in northern Minnesota. Emissions plummet in 2008 because the power plant was retrofitted with more advanced pollution scrubbing technology. As a result, Boswell was able to churn out more power with far less pollution.

If the number one priority of the “environmentalists” who are calling for coal-plant closures is to improve air quality, why don’t they advocate for a ban on campfires instead of trying to close down the most affordable, reliable sources of electricity in the state?