Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order Wednesday calling for a review and plan of action to improve Minnesota’s environmental permitting process.
The governor wants to assess "whatever duplication of oversight there is that can be reduced or eliminated,” Dayton said at a news conference.
The DFL governor asked the Environmental Quality Board to conduct a thorough review and compile a list of recommendations by Nov. 15, 2012.
Dayton wants the board to help simplify the state’s permitting process and wipe out redundancy and confusion. He also directed the state to develop a report card to track and publicize the state’s performance.
Republicans welcomed the governor's call for a review.
"This is a great step in the right direction and I am thankful that Governor Dayton also believes more reform is needed with his recent executive order," said state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.
The announcement came about 10 months after the governor issued a similar order directing the heads of the Department of Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency to speed the permitting process. The governor asked for decisions on permitting within 150 days after the application was filed.
Dayton’s commissioners reported Wednesday that 96 of permits have met those targets. The only ones that haven’t met the target have generally required complex air-quality reviews, said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Paul Aasen.
Dayton said he doesn’t want the state’s environmental standards “to suffer,” but is trying to ensure that projects that do meet the standards move quickly through the permitting process.
Dayton and Republican legislative leaders have been frustrated by the amount of time it can take for permits to be granted, something both sides said has sullied the state’s reputation among job creators. A signature initiative of Republican legislators early this year was to speed permitting, a cause the governor quickly embraced. In a rare flash of political harmony during the last legislative session, the governor signed the measure into law with Republican legislators at his side.
“What we’ve shown is that Minnesota can promote job growth and industry development by approving permits in a timely manner, while protecting our natural resources at the same time,” Dayton said.