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Gov. Dayton Resurrects an MPCA Citizens' Board


Wednesday, August 5, 2015   

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some power is returning to the people, with Gov. Mark Dayton issuing an executive order to keep intact a Citizens' Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The Citizens' Board had been operating for nearly 50 years and could override MPCA staff recommendations on the need for further environmental review on developments such as factory farms. Legislation passed in this year's special session included language to eliminate the board, but Dayton's order established a citizen's advisory committee, said Kathy DeBuhr, a member of the Land Stewardship Project.

"The Citizens' Board represents the people of Minnesota, metro and rural, who are concerned about the environment and areas around their homes," she said. "I would like to see them have more power, or the same power as they had before, but at least they're not eliminated - and that's a very important thing."

Dayton made the announcement Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations.

DeBurh became involved in the issue after a proposal for an 8,000-head dairy operation near her home in Stevens County went before the board and further environmental review was ordered.

"Their ruling to order an Environmental Impact Statement just means that they were going to need more information about well water supply and hydrogen sulfide emissions," she said. "It didn't stop the dairy, but it's just an order for more information."

The Citizens' Board was established in 1967 with the creation of the MPCA to ensure an open and transparent process for approving permits for large developments. Dayton said it's in the best interest of Minnesotans that there remain a forum for public input, discussion and debate on important environmental issues and decisions.

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