ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota’s governor on Tuesday re-created a “citizen’s environmental panel” nearly identical to the one lawmakers just abolished six weeks ago.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton unexpectedly signed the executive order, creating a new eight-member board that will be chaired by the director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Unlike the old board, the new advisory panel does not have the power to overturn MPCA decisions.
But Dayton said the public needs one more layer of protection against polluters.
“I don’t expect regulators to be popular,” he said. “I just know they are essential to protect the citizens from some of the excesses.”
The Citizens Board was abolished in the final hours of the legislative session with little public scrutiny.
Created in 1967, critics of the board said it had outlived its purpose.
“We didn’t have the environmental laws in place back then that we have today,” said Rep. Denny McNamara, the Republican Chair of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee. “And so, when it was created, absolutely, there was a need and a place for it. It just doesn’t fit today anymore, and we are kind of dumbfounded. ”
The governor said Tuesday that Republicans killed the Citizens Board because they need “trophies” to bring home to “extremist” supporters to prove they can “demolish” government.
Republicans point out — accurately — that the bill also passed the Democratic-controlled Senate.