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99% of Job-Creating Permits Now Completed in 150 Days or Less

August 01, 2014

Additional reforms enacted last session will reduce most wait times to 90 days

ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Dayton’s efforts to significantly reduce the time it takes to issue job-creating environmental permits are paying off. Business permits that used to take months, and sometimes even years for state agencies to complete, are now being issued in less than 150 days. A report issued today by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) confirms the success of new reforms implemented by the Governor in 2011, showing that 99 percent of all “priority permits” are now issued within the state’s 150 day goal. The report also shows that 94 percent of all permits are now finished within 150 days.

Governor Dayton took environmental permit reforms a step further during the 2014 Unsession, pushing for and signing into law new reform measures that will reduce wait times for most businesses to just 90 days. Those new changes took effect today, and will help ensure that an estimated 11,000 of the 15,000 permit requests the state receives from businesses each year are completed within the new 90-day goal.

“Over the last three years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has significantly reduced the time needed to issue job-creating environmental permits,” said Governor Dayton. “The additional reforms I signed into law last session will cut wait times for most businesses by another 40 percent. They will provide more certainty for businesses wanting to expand and create jobs here in Minnesota, while continuing our state’s strong environmental protections.”

Since new environmental permitting reforms were implemented by the Dayton Administration in 2011, the MPCA has reported annually on permitting efficiency to the Legislature. The annual report issued today showed that the state has improved its permitting efficiencies over the last 12 months. Last year’s report showed that between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, the state issued 98 percent of priority permits in 150 days (99 percent now); 92 percent of all other permits were completed within the 150 day goal (94 percent now).

“This is great news,” said MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. “We have been more responsive to the needs of the state’s thriving business community while still protecting the clean, healthy environment for which Minnesota is noted. These latest numbers show us that the Governor’s idea and our work are closing the gap toward timely permit issuance. The MPCA remains committed to continuous improvement, and building on these important reforms in the months and years to come.”

New 90-Day Goal Will Help Businesses, Grow Jobs
Long, unnecessary delays cost businesses time and money, and stifle job creation. That is why Governor Dayton has made streamlining environmental permits a priority for his Administration. And this year, the Governor and Legislature took further action to streamline the process to promote economic growth and job creation. Here is how the new 90-day goal will work.

  • Ten-Year Permits for Low-Risk Projects – Rather than asking businesses to re-apply for non-controversial permits every five years, the new law creates a ten-year permit for non-federal permits that present a low risk to our environment and human health. To ensure strong environmental protections, businesses that propose changes to their facilities within that ten-year time-period would be required to re-submit their permit application for review.
  • A Two-Tiered Strategy for Streamlining Permit Review – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources review and issue a wide variety of complex permits every year. To ensure these permits are reviewed responsibly and efficiently, the new law creates a new two-tiered system that will improve the permitting process.
    • 90-Day Goal – An estimated 11,000 permits every year, including the most general and registration permits for air, water, and land, will be issued in 90 days or less.
    • 150-Day Goal – Most complex air, water, and land construction permits that require public comment periods and more detailed review will be issued in 150 days or less.
  • Making the Permitting Process More Flexible – If a business wants to expedite their project, they can help pay for private consultants and staff overtime at state agencies after a permit application has been submitted for approval. To make the process even more flexible, the new law now allows businesses to speed up the permitting process before it starts – creating a fee-for-service model that involves state agencies earlier in the process to eliminate confusion and ensure the business and state regulators have clear expectations and a shared understanding of the project.