MPCA reports success so far in streamlining permitsby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it's making a lot of internal changes to meet efficiency goals set by legislators and Gov. Dayton last spring.
A new law requires the agency to try to issue air and water permits within 150 days of receiving the application.
The MPCA's Don Smith is helping revamp permit procedures. He says the agency will not compromise environmental protection or public input.
"We don't believe we'll hit 150 days perfectly on all projects, especially those that are very complex, have big environmental issues," said Smith. "We're still going to be pushing to get everything done, but we aren't going to compromise the environment or the public's concerns just to meet that exact number."
Smith says delays often occur when an application lacks information or includes incorrect math. So the MPCA now uses a checklist to determine whether an application is complete, 30 days after it is made.
"So that when we get it we can just take it and run with it, as opposed to having a lot of back-and-forth, which in the past has delayed the application and led to a lot of the problems we're having meeting permit goals," said Smith.
The MPCA prioritizes construction permits because they generally involve new or expanding projects and new jobs. The report says the agency issued 90 percent of priority permits during the four months since the new law went into effect.