Land Stewardship Project members have been active at the Minnesota Capitol because we believe our public institutions and government at all levels belong to us. These institutions must do what is best in service to people and the land. The decisions being made right now will shape the future of our state, which is why we’re working to strengthen the role of the public in government.
With less than two weeks to go in the 2019 state legislative session, our elected representatives are working to create joint budget proposals, but there is a lot to reconcile.
The House’s proposal takes steps forward to invest in our environment and natural resources, while also improving public participation in key decisions that impact our communities. The Senate’s proposal, on the other hand, guts general fund support for key public institutions and stifles public participation in the environmental review process. The administration of Governor Tim Walz has not spoken out in support of our priorities or against proposals we are concerned about.
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House Proposal: Reinstates MN Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board
The Citizens’ Board, established with the creation of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in 1967, was abolished in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session. The Citizens’ Board created a transparent, open public process that gave Minnesotans a say in critical environmental management decisions. Since the elimination of the Citizens’ Board, we have seen democracy and transparency weakened in the MPCA decision making process, especially around environmental review. More information is here.
Senate Proposal: Stifles Public Engagement in Environmental Review
A provision in the budget bill would strip the ability for the state to extend a comment period past 30 days on any environmental assessment worksheets (EAWs), and gives that authority to the proposer of a large-scale proposal. This applies across all projects required to complete an EAW, including factory farms. The fact is, the public comment period is rarely extended — and when it is, it is to ensure the public has an appropriate amount of time to understand and comment on the proposal. More information is here.