RESTORE THE MPCA CITIZENS’ BOARD
In 1967, when the Minnesota Legislature first created the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), it structured the agency so that final decision-making authority over contentious environmental review and permitting questions was vested in the Citizens’ Board. The choice of this structure was deliberate, to ensure that the MPCA served the public interest, to establish an open and transparent decision-making process, and to serve as a bulwark against the political pressures that could corrupt the MPCA’s decision-making. The Citizens’ Board worked well and was a model of which Minnesota could be proud.
In the final hours of the 2015 Legislative Session, though no such provision passed any committee in either the House or Senate, language was inserted into a must-pass budget bill that abolished the 48-year-old Board. In its place, the final decision-maker within the agency is now the MPCA Commissioner, who serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
Governor Dayton’s August 4, 2015 executive order creating a Citizens’ Advisory Committee to the MPCA was a positive step, yet the newly framed body lacks the decision-making authority needed to ensure that the MPCA functions as intended: transparently, free of political interference, and in the public’s interest.
- Restoring the MPCA Citizens’ Board to its full capacity and authority is a top priority of Minnesota’s environmental and conservation community.