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Rep. McNamara takes over environmental committee

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The incoming Republican chair of the Minnesota House Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Committee says he will build on groundwork laid by his Democratic predecessor. 

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said he shares a results-oriented approach with former committee chair Jean Wagenius. He said he's interesting in streamlining government, and the permitting process in particular.

  "Are there things we can do ... that speed it up so business knows what's going to happen," McNamara said. "I think that's possible while protecting the environment."

On the topic of mining, McNamara said copper-nickel mining can be done responsibly, but he wants substantial guarantees from mining companies that they'll be around to clean up when the mining is done.

"There's long term financial guarantees we need because some of this water treatment may be ongoing forever," McNamara said.

McNamara said the state should study possible impacts of sulfates from mining and other sources on wild rice beds. He also wants to improve recycling rates.  

He spoke at a legislative forum organized by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative.

Republican officials gave the committee chairmanship to McNamara after Rep. Tom Hackbarth had a run-in with police.