Gov. Dayton signs environmental permitting bill

Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a bill designed to speed up the environmental permit applications process for businesses and local governments.

The new law builds on one passed last year and directs the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources to act on any permit application within 150 days of submission.

Previously, an application had to be "substantially completed" for consideration. After a signing ceremony Monday, Dayton described the bill as a great example of bipartisan accord.

"We were engaged early enough in the process that it wasn't just, 'Here's the bill, take it or leave it.' It was 'let's work on this together,' and it was give and take," said Dayton. "The senators and representatives were just really outstanding in their willingness to engage with us and have it be a two-way dialogue."

The new law also changes the permit cycle for feedlots from five years to 10 years.

"We think a 10-year cycle fits the flow of that business better, fits the capital flow, fits kind of the business-development flow for most of the feedlots," said MPCA Commissioner Paul Aasen. "It keeps in place the requirements that people stay in compliance with their permits, but then also if they're proposing changes, they have to come back through the permitting process, even when it's within that 10-year window."

The measure builds on a permit streamlining bill passed last year. Aasen said under the new rules, state agencies might be able to trim three to five months from the environmental review process.

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