From: Dale Schauer
At city meetings throughout the past year, the issue of air quality in Winona has been brought up, primarily relating to diesel fumes and dust from silica sand. In the City Council’s resolution supporting a Generic Environmental Impact Study sent to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, air quality was listed as the most important issue needing attention. Although the Planning Commission had addressed the issue during the frac sand moratorium, in March the council requested the Planning Commission address the issue further, and utilize the CEQC (Citizens Environmental Quality Committee). This committee was established as an advisory board to the Planning Commission. Committee members are Winona citizens appointed by the mayor, approved by the City Council and are knowledgeable in environmental resources. Several also have doctorate degrees.
The CEQC made NINE recommendations to the Planning Commission including one that baseline air quality measurements be made “as soon as possible.” This action took place between April and May. NONE of the recommendations were sent to the City Council for action or discussion, including the establishment of a baseline for comparison with state standards once they are established. They were instead returned for review. The CEQC met in mid-July, re-affirmed the initial NINE recommendations and added THREE more. Again the committee stressed air quality monitoring should be started as soon as possible. Included with the 12 recommendations are documents from the MPCA with reference how to proceed with the monitoring. At the next Planning Commission meeting air quality was not even listed on the agenda.
At the very least, a baseline for air quality in Winona should be given immediate attention. What is the Planning Commission waiting for? How are these actions, or lack thereof, looking out for the safety, health and the well being of the citizens?