Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Streamlining environmental permit

Published (1/28/2011)
By Sue Hegarty
Share on: 

Gov. Mark Dayton’s executive order that will streamline the environmental permitting process within two state agencies did not deter the House Civil Law Committee from approving a bill Jan. 24 that would similarly modify timelines, plus two additional modifications.

The bipartisan goal is to make the permit application process more efficient with the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency so that businesses are not inclined to move to another state.

Sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau), HF1 would require the DNR and MPCA to issue or deny environmental and resource management permits within 150 days of a submitted application. So does the executive order, which takes effect in mid-February. The bill would also allow the judicial review process to be done directly by the Court of Appeals. Now, a district court performs the work.

Thaddeus Lightfoot, an attorney with the Environmental Law Group, said the district and appeals courts perform essentially the same review and it’s a duplication of effort and attorney fees. But citizen groups oppose removing the stop in district court, which is typically geographically closer to those who want to attend a court hearing.

The other wrinkle in HF1 is the provision that would allow the proposer of a project to prepare a draft environmental impact statement, rather than the state agency that requires it. Fabian said a $12,000 ditch cleanup project in his district has escalated to $405,000 due to government inaction. Such cases “crush our local economy,” he said.

However, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) and several DFL members said the bill, as written, may not accomplish Fabian’s intent to keep the environmental review process publicly transparent. Some fear the bill would enable private companies to prepare the draft EIS and to withhold information under the Data Practices Act.

Holberg said she’ll work with Fabian and other committee members to clarify the language.

Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) unsuccessfully offered to table the vote until an environmental permit process review, now underway by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, is released. The vote was 10-6.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) sponsors its companion, SF42, which awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Minnesota Index: Enjoying the outdoors
Facts and statistics on state parks and trails
(view full story) Published 4/20/2012

Minnesota Index: Birding
Facts and statistics on birding in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 4/6/2012

A prickly situation
Farmers seek fair fight against noxious weeds
(view full story) Published 3/16/2012

Angling for more participation
DNR looks for ways to get more anglers and hunters into the great outdoors
(view full story) Published 3/2/2012

Meeting halfway
Environment and energy law packs policy changes
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Legacy bill brought back to life
More than $449 million appropriated from voter-approved sales tax increase
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Trees from start to finish
Environment finance bill would close tree nursery
(view full story) Published 5/20/2011

Legacy spending differences
Conference committee needed to determine parks and trails funding
(view full story) Published 5/20/2011

Less means more
Some Legacy recipients may see increases despite drop in appropriation percentages
(view full story) Published 4/29/2011

Minnesota Index: Outdoor Heritage Fund
Facts and statistics on the Outdoor Heritage Fund
(view full story) Published 4/29/2011

Environment bill reflects ‘priorities’
House addresses wild rice, harvesting timber and closing of state parks
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Putting a stop to aquatic invasive species
Broader enforcement, stiffer penalties proposed for violators
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Wild rice study proposed
Committee approves policies for wild rice, state parks
(view full story) Published 3/25/2011

Should Minnesotans be hunting for land?
Legislators aim for no-net-loss and no-net-gain targets
(view full story) Published 3/4/2011

Minnesota Index: Horticulture and agriculture
Figures and statistics on horticulture and agriculture in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 3/4/2011

At Issue: Leaving a legacy
Recipients report outcomes of dedicated tax appropriations
(view full story) Published 2/4/2011