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House Republicans respond to Gov. Mark Dayton's pollution citizens board announcement

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said he was blindsided and baffled by Gov. Mark Dayton's announcement today that he'll create a new citizens' committee to advise the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

Dayton's move comes just weeks after the he signed an environment bill ending the PCA Citizens' Board, which had authority to grant or block environmental permits before it was eliminated with the June legislation. Although he signed the bill, Dayton expressed misgivings at the time and said he would work to restore it.

McNamara, who chairs the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee, was instrumental in the push to end the Citizens Board,

“House Republicans are really proud of the bipartisan work we did with the bill and the governor signed a couple months ago that speeded up the permitting process and removed the Citizens Board absolute permitting authority, so we’re kind of surprised by today’s development.”

McNamara said when the Citizens Board was eliminated it saved the state $400,000 and said it’s unlikely the Legislature would provide money for the new board.

McNamara speculated that Dayton may be trying to mollify environmental groups, some of whom felt burned at the end of the legislative session. 

Unlike the previous board, the new committee would serve in an advisory capacity only, but Dayton nonetheless said in a statement that "Minnesota citizens need and deserve a seat at the table."

Dayton orders creation of new citizens committee to advise Pollution Control Agency

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday created a new citizens' committee to advise the state's pollution control agency. 

Dayton's executive order follows the recent demise of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Citizens Board, a panel that until the most recent legislative session, exerted tremendous power over environmental regulations in the state. 

Unlike the previous board, the new committee would serve in an advisory capacity only, but Dayton nonetheless said in a statement that "Minnesota citizens need and deserve a seat at the table."

He added: “I am proud to sign this executive order today, and look forward to appointing a group of qualified, committed citizen leaders to carry out this important work.”

Once appointed, members of the newly-created committee will advise the MPCA on four main areas, according to the executive order. They include reviewing the scope and adequacy of environmental review documents, including impact statements. The panel will also advise on "certain permits," agency rules and requests for a variance from state regulations. 

The dismantling of the previous citizens' board occurred during the June special session, after a divisive battle by environmentalists and their allies in the Legislature. Dayton signed the bill and later said he would try to restore the board in a future legislative session. 

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