Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has re-created a citizens’ panel to advise the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on environmental issues.
The citizens’ panel will only have an advisory role. This past session, the Minnesota Legislature dismantled a similar board which had decision making authority over MPCA rulings. Dayton had signed that legislation, albeit reluctantly.
The issue had come to a head last year when the citizens’ board had over-ruled MPCA’s professional staff over permitting a very large dairy in western Minnesota. MPCA staff had ruled that the dairy would not be required to produce an expensive environmental impact assessment on the proposed facility. But the citizens’ board required that the assessment be done.
Agricultural interests in the state have also been sparring with Dayton over a requirement that farmers install 50’ grass buffer strips along all rivers, streams and drainage ditches. No compensation was offered. The buffer strip legislation passed last session--exactly how it will be enforced remains to be seen. But it was another issue where Dayton was in conflict with farmers.
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