Capitol Update: Bill that weakens permit process approaches final stages

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By Eric Bergstrom, Campaign Coordinator

House File 2095 (Fabian) was debated on the House floor on March 22, and passed on a vote of 79-49. This permitting bill means more rollbacks for Minnesotans and benefits for corporate special interests. The bill would establish a new process where an applicant for a permit could use a “permit application professional” to write their own permits.

Furthermore, the bill would also prohibit a permit from being terminated or suspended in the event of a full or partial shutdown affecting the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Government should not be left without proper checks and balances, and we should avoid another shutdown from happening, instead of planning for regular shutdowns. Also, the bill allows construction to begin before a permit has been issued or approved, and doesn’t require biofuel facilities to submit environmental impact statements.

The Senate companion, S.F. 1567, was passed on March 8 with a vote of 47-16. The Senate chose to not concur with the House language, so a conference committee will meet on Wednesday, March 28 to finalize the language.

Conference Committee on S.F. 1567
Chairs: Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and Rep. Dan Fabian
CONFEREES: SENATE: Ingebrigtsen; Carlson; Gazelka; Pederson; Stumpf, HOUSE: Fabian; Hancock; Dill; McNamara; Torkelson
15 minutes after the last body adjourns
Room 123, Capitol

Last year, the Governor’s Executive Order and House File 1 made changes to the permitting process.  The MPCA has met the 150-day goal of responding to permits for 99% of priority construction permits and 81% of all permits. We should allow this process to continue instead of making further attempts to roll back our environmental protections.

We expect this bill to go the Governor’s desk after the conference committee finishes their work. We continue our discussions with legislators and Governor Dayton’s office, but we won’t know what the final outcome will be quite yet.

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