To the editor:
The Marshall Independent's Feb. 8 editorial page contained a letter from Rep. Chris Swedzinski. In the article he talked about House File 1, a bill he touted as "streamlining the permitting process and therefore making it easier for businesses to expand in Minnesota."
What Rep. Swedzinski didn't say is that House File 1 streamlines the permitting process by weakening environmental review. Among other things, House File 1 allows a project proposer to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement and denies citizens the right to appeal environmental review decisions in their local District Courts. Touted as a "jobs bill," proponents of House File 1 have offered no facts to support that these bills will indeed create a single job.
Environmental review allows for public comment and participation - you get an opportunity to share your concerns. In many cases, it is the only opportunity for neighbors - those most directly impacted by a proposed large development - to have their voices heard in the process. Environmental Review is critical because the best way to prevent pollution is by ensuring projects are built right in the first place.
Our world has too many horror stories about projects that have gone awry; giving project proposers the opportunity to prepare their own Environmental Impact Statement opens the door for more potential abuse of our already fragile environment. Environmental Review needs to be done by the agency responsible for the review. Denying rural citizens the right to appeal environmental review decisions in their local District Courts forces them into higher cost Appellate Courts in St. Paul; it limits our ability to access environmental review without incurring a huge financial burden.
Corporate special interests have made weakening environmental review a top priority during this session of the Minnesota Legislature. Please contact your legislator and ask that they respect and maintain our citizen's rights to participate in environmental review that impacts us by voting "NO" to House File 1 or Senate File 42. Tell them that this bill only undermines the ability of neighbors to have a meaningful say in potentially harmful development proposed in their communities, and that you want to keep your right to voice your concerns.