This Week on The Line
Molly Pederson, Government Affairs Director
Things that make you go hmmm…
This week’s head-scratcher comes in the form of SF1567/HF2095, Environmental permits efficiency and environmental review requirements modified. Apparently, last session’s kumbaya around this issue is just a distant memory and we’re back for Round Two.
Among the more troubling sections of the bill is one that defines something called a “paid permit professional.” It’s pretty self-explanatory. Corporations can either fill the permit application out themselves or they can hire someone to do it for them. An odd thing to have in statute since they can do that already, right? Except that these PPP’s are given an astounding amount of influence.
For starters, any permit application submitted to the state by a PPP is automatically considered approved. It’s up to an agency staff person to dig through the mound of paperwork and figure out if something’s wrong. Even then, the agency can’t deny the permit. First, they have to give the PPP some advice on how to make it right. Then the PPP gets to send in a revision. It’s the same thing if the application is incomplete. The agency has to tell the PPP what’s missing and give the PPP a chance to send in the additional information. All of this has to happen within a whopping 30 days and the clock doesn’t stop for anything, even those incomplete or deficient applications. If the clock runs out while the agency is waiting for the PPP to get back to them, well, the bill says the permit is approved so I guess that’s that. Huh.
Proponents of the bill say that this is just like hiring an accountant to help you complete your taxes. But the last I heard, the IRS hasn’t ceded control to H&R Block. Let’s face it, Minnesotans are expecting at least some semblance of protection from corporate polluters. CEOs that have the money to hire a PPP to fill out their EIS and EAW can end up leaving the rest of us…SOL.
Caught at the Capitol this week
SF1567/HF2095 is scheduled to be heard in three committee this week:
Senate Committee on Jobs & Economic Growth, Tuesday, February 14
House Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Wednesday, February 15
House Jobs & Economic Development Committee, Thursday, February 16
Ole says: Toss it back!
What is the Line? The Line is a light, 100% Minnesotan look at all things environment at the Capitol as seen by me, a lobbyist who doesn’t actually spend that much time outside. Please don’t confuse the Line with the always enjoyable musings of the other, taller half of Conservation Minnesota’s government affairs team, John Tuma. You can (and should!) check out his blog here.
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