5 months enough

Published 9:03 am Friday, February 25, 2011

Daily Herald Editorial

A Minnesota Senate bill aimed at speeding up the state’s environmental review process is good legislation, provided it is not taken as a green light for revolving door permit approvals.

Although taxes are often cited as a reason that some businesses choose not to locate or expand in Minnesota, the challenges of negotiating the state’s regulatory hurdles are also a detriment to business and industry. The permit bill which the Senate approved 49-16, gives the state Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources 150 days to rule on applications for environmental permits. That five-month span may still seem like a long time, but it’s far faster than things often move now.

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A desire for moving the permit process forward at a reasonable pace should not, however, be misinterpreted as meaning that every permit should be approved. Some projects, such as pending requests to operate sulfide mines near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, will always be so environmentally risky that they shouldn’t get regulatory approval in five months — or at any point before it can be shown that the plans are safe.

Providing a reasonably quick decision on permits is a key to Minnesota’s success as a business center. We hope that the House and governor can match the Senate’s desire for minimizing red tape.