A year ago Governor Dayton ordered the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to ‘move at the speed of commerce.” The Governor signed an Executive Order directing agencies to accelerate their permitting process and make final permit decisions within 150 days. DNR and MPCA answered the call, at their year-end reporting deadline both agencies have issued and approved 99% of their permits in less than 150 days; many of the determinations were made within just a few weeks.
The DNR and MPCA are responsible for handling between 3,000 and 5,000 permits annually, reviewing construction and expansion projects and protecting Minnesota's natural resources and environment. However, lengthy review processes can slow down growth and create headaches for businesses. To resolve this problem, Gov. Dayton directed the MPCA and DNR to accelerate and simplify their permitting process in order to allow more rapid business expansion and job creation. He asked the agencies to make permit decisions within 150 days and expedite the application process by allowing electronic filing. The State Legislature followed the Governor's lead, making the order law during the 2011 legislative session.
Gov. Dayton's executive order also requested regular progress reports to determine whether or not the new goals were being achieved. A year later, both state agencies are reporting success rates of 99% or higher. Since the Governor issued his executive order, the MPCA has been approving environmental permits in less than 150 days 99% of the time. In the DNR's case, the rate of efficiency is even higher, issuing permits more efficiently and effectively 99.6% of the time. In many cases, the DNR was even more expedient, making decisions on permits in less than two weeks and often within a few days. Furthermore, the DNR missed the 150-day deadline on only three permits during the reporting period, and the delay was caused in all three cases by complications stemming from the government shutdown last summer.
Gov. Dayton shares in the commitment to making government work better for the people of Minnesota. He is dedicated to reforming government so that it works harder, not less. Making government agencies more responsive is the first step to creating a better government for a better Minnesota, and the impressive results achieved by two major agencies show that Gov. Mark Dayton is well on the way to doing just that.