Streamlining Environmental Review, Permitting

Streamlining Environmental Review, Permitting

SF 3656 – House and Senate votes 
YES is vote supporting Minnesota Chamber position

Shannon Lotthammer, director of environmental analysis and outcomes division at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, testifies with Tony Kwilas, director of environmental policy, on the omnibus environmental policy bill.

The Minnesota Chamber’s goal is for the state’s permitting system to be the best in the nation – ensuring rigorous and efficient processes that protect the environment and natural resources while facilitating economic growth. Minnesota businesses have expressed frustration and concern about the uncertainty and variability in the time required to process environmental review documents and permits. To maximize competitiveness in a global economy, companies seeking permits for existing, expanding or new facilities must be assured of clarity, timeliness, predictability and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process. 

This bill contained a number of provisions that provided options and flexibility for environmental review and permitting. Changes were proposed to the wetland mitigation program to allow economic development projects to replace disturbed wetlands statewide, rather than only inside the watershed district where they are located. The legislation also capped wetland program fees charged by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. 

The legislation also contained a proposal to allow 16-year permits for wastewater treatment plants (currently five years) and prohibited water quality fee increases proposed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency unless approved by the Legislature. 

This bill also would have required an independent peer review for new water quality standards proposed by the Pollution Control Agency and clarified that transfers of water between two bodies of water that did not involve pollutants (i.e. dam repairs) for municipal, state and industrial facilities would not have to apply for a permit. 

We thank Representative Dan Fabian, R-Roseau and Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, for their leadership in authoring the Chamber provisions included in the final legislation.

Tony Kwilas, director of environmental policy, talks about the environmental policy bill with Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.

HF 3280 – House and Senate votes

YES is vote supporting Minnesota Chamber position

This bill would have clarified regulations regarding the proposed new wild rice water quality standard put forth by the Pollution Control Agency. It would have set up standards for cost-effective treatment technologies including an economic analysis of the cost to businesses and municipalities. It also would have established a work group to prepare recommendations to improve the regulation of wastewater discharges as necessary to protect wild rice.

Governor Dayton vetoed the bill saying it delegated responsibilities to the work group that should be performed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. He subsequently established a task force through executive order to review this issue. 

Interested in other issues? Visit the Voting Record page.