On March 12, 2015, Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s executive director Steve Morse delivered testimony summarized below regarding a new bill that would modify the duties of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board. In his testimony, he emphasizes the importance of keeping the essential duties of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board as is for a number of reasons. He warns lawmakers that removing citizen oversight of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Listen to Steve’s Testimony here. It begins at 2hr 18min and runs through 2hr 24min
Summarized testimony delivered by Steve Morse
Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Delivered before the
Minnesota House Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee
on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board duties modified (H.F. 1394)
March 12, 2015
Summarized Testimony – Minnesotans cherish our natural resources and take pride in our outdoor heritage. I believe that we are fundamentally in agreement on that. The involvement of citizens in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s process has a productive and positive impact for a wide range of folks. It makes sense to have citizen oversight of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and this bill throws the baby out with the bathwater. I would like to make a few points about why I think this legislation would be a mistake:
- The citizens board the way it is structured now is good for citizens. It gives them a significant place at the table in the decision-making process.
- The citizens board is good for the MPCA because there is a citizen ground truthing check that impacts the entire administrative process.
- The citizens board is good for regulated industries because it serves as a transparent safety valve when there are contentious issues.
- Citizen involvement is a fundamental part of environmental protection and conservation activities. Environmental protection is almost always driven by citizen engagement on the front end.
- The citizens board stands the test of time – it has worked for nearly 50 years. We fundamentally think it makes the process healthier and more open and we get better protection of our resources in a cost-effective and efficient way.
In summary, we would argue that the citizens’s board is good all the way around. Even though it may take a little longer to work through specific cases it is overall a good investment of time for the reasons stated above. Our partnership feels very strongly that to pass this bill would be an erosion of some of the bedrock environmental policies that we have in the state. It would be an erosion of public participation and we hope the committee will not move it forward. Again, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.