This past session, House Republicans balanced the needs of stewarding our environment with the interests of farmers, land owners, and small businesses. We were able to put together a bill that makes common-sense changes that make our environmental laws work better for Minnesotans and don’t squelch industry.
Our Environment and Natural Resources policy omnibus bill streamlines environmental review, reins in government spending through agency efficiencies, and protects farmers and landowners from government overreach to ensure the buffer law is enacted as intended.
Important provisions passed in this bill include:
Buffer reforms: The bill gives SWCDs & counties the ability to issue waivers for up to 8 months to give farmers time to meet the buffer deadlines that begin Nov. 2017.
The Environmental Quality Board moves from statewide appointments to appointments by congressional district.
Raises penalties for poachers.
Allocates funding to the University of Minnesota to combat aquatic invasive species.
Allows scopes to be used on muzzleloaders.
Prohibits the DNR from further restricting the use of lead shot until July 2019.
This bill shifted focus to peer-reviewed science to add transparency and fairness to the permitting and environmental review process. Much of the regulations our farmers and landowners face today are implemented using science that has received very little backing by members of the scientific community, especially when dealing with the use of buffers to prevent nitrates from entering our bodies of water. We owe it to our taxpayers to do our homework and concentrate on proven facts, not shaky science that supports a specific political agenda.
Unfortunately, Governor Dayton and the MPCA have opposed using peer reviewed science on many of the agency mandates and regulations. This has the effect of artificially inflating cost for farms, businesses, and communities. Several communities have been impacted with higher cost on the upgrade of their city waste water plants. If the MPCA is allowed to continue using non peered reviewed science many community water rates will more than double in the near future with no measurable improvement in water quality. Two communities in my district have already filed litigation opposing theses non science requirements. I and other legislators will continue to urge the Governor and MPCA to use peer reviewed science and environmental standards with communities when upgrading their waste water facilities. This will result in more reasonable cost to city residence with the best results for water quality.