Last week, when a significant plume of low-level smoke from southern Canada passed through our region, an Air Quality Alert was issued for all of northern Minnesota but none of North Dakota. This created confusion when our television scroll systems displayed this alert, and people in North Dakota wondered why they were left out. The reason is that Minnesota has a State Pollution Control Agency and North Dakota does not.

While this may seem like a terrible omission on the part of North Dakota politicians, it should be pointed out that most cases of significant air pollution in our region typically occur when stagnant high pressure has trapped pollutants in urban areas such as the Twin Cities. Elsewhere, the wide open spaces and wind have kept the air fairly clean. However, the threat of smoke from wildfires like last week is an increasing problem as the climate warms.

Newsletter signup for email alerts