Thank you Mr. Chair and Members. Mark Ten Eyck representing the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.
MCEA opposes many of the policy provisions in this bill. To avoid repeating our previous testimony, we have a packet of written material for handout.
Today, I’ll start by saying: it’s not all bad. The Governor’s goal of a 25% improvement in water quality by 2025, and the related public process, is solid. Minnesotans expect clean, fishable, drinkable and swimmable waters. A 25% improvement to water quality would be a significant step in that direction.
Most all of the other provisions in the omnibus bill, however, weigh against us ever accomplishing that goal.
Beginning with the budget cuts, many of them are extreme. Of particular note, the nearly 85% General Fund cut for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is too much — by a lot. Also, taking $22 million from the Clean Water Fund to implement the buffer law would roll back the Legislature’s 2015 commitment to appropriate this money from the General Fund base beginning in 2018.
On the policy side, MCEA’s concerns are in three areas.
First, this omnibus would cut the public out of the environmental decision-making process by
Second, the omnibus would in many instances delay environmental decision-making— not streamline it. It would, for example:
Third, the omnibus would circumvent the input of experts and scientists doing their jobs. For example, it would:
And then, there is the buffer law: MCEA urges you: Don’t Ditch It in this omnibus. Two points.
In short and in summary, the omnibus is a story of delays here, streamlining there — creating some expediency for pollution permit applicants, but sacrificing important and longstanding protections for public health and the environment.
Thank you for hearing MCEA’s testimony today.