House bill would speed environmental review

By Stephanie Hemphill

The Minnesota House could act today on a bill requiring state agencies to simplify their environmental reviews of development projects, making it easier for industry to obtain permits.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order last month, directing state agencies to speed up environmental review. But some legislators are considering a bill that would do more than set goals for a quicker process.

It would allow companies proposing a project to conduct their own environmental studies. And it would bump appeals of agency decisions up to the appeals court, rather than the more local district courts.

The state office of Management and Budget analyzed a companion Senate bill, and found it could actually slow down reviews, because it requires periodic reports to the Legislature.

The House may also take up a bill removing Minnesota’s ban on new nuclear power plants — which has already passed in the Senate.

Reporter Stephanie Hemphill covers the environment for MPR News.