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Get serious about protecting our quality of life (08/11/2013)
From: Marie Kovecsi

On Monday, August 12, at 4:30 p.m. in city hall, the Winona City Planning Commission (PC) will again discuss recommendations to measure air quality. This is the second time the Citizen’s Environmental Quality Committee (CEQC) has sent this recommendation to the PC. The City Council also directed the PC consider air quality measures on March 4.

But support for collecting baseline air quality information goes back even further. In September of 2012, the City Council supported monitoring as part of its request to state agencies to perform a Generic Environmental Impact Study (GEIS). In testimony before Senate committees in March, city planning staff asked for State assistance saying, “the most important issue is air quality.”

So, why is our Planning Committee bouncing the issue of collecting baseline air quality data between committees? Why is our Planning Commission stalling this recommendation when it has the backing of both the City Council and the CEQC?

Before frac sand trucks began clogging our air and roads, Winona was ranked the 13th highest county in Minnesota for diesel exhaust emissions. Our air also does not move out quickly, since the bluffs trap it in our valley. The Nisbit mine (Saratoga Township) soon will produce 280 truck trips per day along Highway 14 to Hemker’s washing site on Goodview Road and then on to rail or barge. A proposed mine in Dover Wis., will send 400 trucks to Winona for processing and transport. This equals 800 truck trips since trucks return to Wis.

Can our washing plants safely handle this volume of business? Are we destined to breathe more and more diesel air? Can our roads safely add this increased amount of traffic? Is the Planning Committee afraid to know our current air quality?

We can and should collect baseline air quality measures before the state sets standards. We would collect baseline air quality measures if our Planning Committee members took their vow to protect our health, welfare, safety and quality of life seriously and listened to the City Council and the Citizen’s Environmental Quality Committee.

Call PC members, listed on the city website at http://www.cityofwinona.com/city-services/planning-zoning/planning-commission/

Come to Monday’s meeting at 4:30 and tell the Planning Committee to stop bouncing this issue around and get serious about protecting citizen health, safety, welfare and quality of life.



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