How the MPCA’s Citizens’ Board did itself in

REUTERS/Jim Young
Cows seen in the holding pen in the milking parlor of a dairy farm.

In a way, the Citizens’ Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency voted itself out of existence months ago. Last August, six members of the board had the audacity to order that a corporate farm operation go through an environmental impact study before building a facility for upwards of 9,000 dairy cattle.  

The company, Riverview LLP, the state’s largest milk producer, responded by saying it would not go through the costly environmental process; the plan for the dairy operation in Stevens County was put on hold. 

But it was the Citizens’ Board that took the harder hit. By saying “no” to Riverview, the board had said “no” to big ag. 

In the Minnesota Legislature, it’s an unpopular thing to say no to big ag. Republican lawmakers, with approving nods from DFLers from the Iron Range, were angered by the board’s independence and quietly went about the business of writing the Citizens’ Board out of existence in the environment-agriculture budget bill. Though Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill, he has indicated, in the name of compromise, he will accept the language that eliminates the board in exchange for changes in other parts of the bill

“There were no hearings on this,” said Steve Morse, who is a former legislator, a former high-ranking official in the Department of Natural Resources and who now is the head of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “As far as I can tell, there was no case ever made for why this should happen. If it does happen, it’s a happy day for those who pollute.”

A unique body

For his part, Dayton hasn’t been clear as to why he’s willing to let the Citizens’ Board disappear from the public arena with little more than a whimper. But in fairness to Dayton, few seem to be making a big issue of the erasure of a unique body that has been around since the MPCA was created, in 1967.

Grant Merritt, who was the second director of the MPCA, said part of the reason there’s not a greater  uproar surrounding Dayton’s apparent decision to let the board die is that the board’s structure has long since been changed — and weakened. Under Gov. Arne Carlson, a business-friendly MPCA commissioner, Charlie Williams,  worked with the Legislature to limit the power of the board in a number of ways, including making the MPCA commissioner the chairman of the board.

“Originally,” Merritt said, “the board elected its own chairman. It was created to be the policy-making body of the agency. The original structure was brilliant. Sen. Gordon Rosenmeier (who caucused as a conservative) had it structured so that the hot environmental issues of the day came through the board. That hasn’t happened since Carlson made the changes.”

Rather than being at the head of the line in the process, the board ended up at the back. It was to approve — and on rare occasions  reject — recommendations made by MPCA staff.

The Stevens County vote

That’s what happened last August 26. MPCA staff recommended to the board that Riverview be granted a permit to go ahead with its dairy project without an environmental impact statement. It should be noted Riverview, with huge operations around the state, has received high marks from the MPCA for its environmental performance.

Dennis Jensen

MPCA
Dennis Jensen

But the Citizens’ Board listened closely as people from the region of the proposed dairy testified about their concerns about the project. What would be the impact on water and air, they wondered. What would the impact of large numbers of dairy trucks be to air quality, roads and safety? Many expressed concern that property values in the areas surrounding the proposed operation would plummet, that families would leave.

“There has to be a human element in all of this,” said Dennis Jensen, a Duluth resident who was appointed to the Citizens’ Board by Carlson. “We listened to homeowners and other residents and their concerns made sense. This was going to have an impact on their lives.”

The board voted 6-1 to require the environmental impact study. But such studies are expensive and cumbersome and, since the recession of 2008, most large companies have discovered it’s easier to bully than study. “We’ll take our jobs elsewhere” has become the standard approach to countering state regulations and would-be regulators.

Of course, no politician will say that big business is more important than a livable environment. But pols can say that economic factors must be part of the quality-of-life equation. And many, including Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, say the work of the Citizens’ Board is no longer needed. McNamara says that board merely gets in the way of the great work being done by agency “scientists.”

A pressure-relief valve

The idea that the citizens of the board are in no position to question the “science” of the MPCA is absurd, according to Morse and Jensen. For starters, most issues moving through the MPCA are sophisticated. “Often one scientist will counter what another scientist is saying,” Jensen said.

The board traditionally has been made up of citizens coming from all points in Minnesota and come with a wide range of backgrounds. This is not a board for those looking for an easy ride or extra income. Members are paid $55 per diem. Typically, the board meets two days a month, meaning members collect about $1,300 a year. Over the years, most members have come to meetings well prepared, having studied hundreds of pages of documents and read scores of letters and e-mails from citizens.

Steve Morse

LinkedIn
Steve Morse

Ironically, though the board is on the verge of being erased because it voted “no” on one big ag project, it’s usually environmentalists who have walked away from board meetings disappointed, according to Morse. But even when citizens, or environmental groups have been disappointed by the votes of the board, it has played an important role in the permitting process.

“It has served as a pressure relief valve,” Morse said. If nothing else, he said board meetings have been a place where everyday citizens with passionate concerns over some of the biggest issues of our time — mining on the Range, farming practices across the state — can be heard.

Barring a dramatic shift by Dayton prior to the special session, that “pressure relief valve” is about to be shut down. 

“What’s happened is that there are a lot of corporate interests involved in this,” said Jensen. “We knew in August that we had upset some people and there was talk then that we’d be eliminated. But I thought that common sense would prevail. I thought that people would understand that there has to be a place where citizens have a voice.”

Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by Michael Hess on 06/03/2015 - 10:00 am.

    Great article

    Doug Grow is a great writer. Thanks for shedding light on this issue and bringing out this perspective.

  2. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/03/2015 - 11:06 am.

    FYI

    Riverview is family owned. The citizens board much like a planning commission is to put sound science and reasoning ahead of inflammatory language and rhetoric which they did not do. They were not basing their decision on sound science and reasoning and were rightly put to rest. Riverveiw had all the science behind them and the citizens board acted on behalf of environmentalists that are only out to stop what they don’t like with nothing to back it up.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/03/2015 - 05:12 pm.

      So?

      Family owned? What does that have to do with anything?

      Is it big? Yes.

      Is it ag? Yes.

      Then it is Big Ag whether it is “family owned” or not.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/04/2015 - 11:12 am.

        so

        It would not qualify as corporate as described in the article if you read it. Does anyone have a say in how big a family farm can be? Should they? Should they have a say in how big any business can be?

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/04/2015 - 12:56 pm.

          Yes

          When the size of the business negatively impacts their quality of life, beyond the bounds of the business property. Would you enjoy a toxic waste landfill going in next door? Should you have a say in the matter?

          • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/04/2015 - 03:27 pm.

            stretching it

            That is a large stretch to call it a toxic waste landfill when independent engineers and scientists have designed the site and certified it fully compliant. Not only that but the EAW does not suggest the need for anything further. The MPCA has reviewed it and if it impacted the quality of life somehow would not have permitted it. So no you should not have a say in the matter especially when you are basing your say on things that have been proven fine by science.

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/05/2015 - 02:30 pm.

              It was an analogy

              I never claimed the millions of gallons of liquified cattle feces constituted a toxic waste site. However, having grown up across a cornfield from a paltry 400 head milking operation I can certainly attest to the negative impact large amounts of cattle dung can have on ones quality of life, not to mention property values. But hey, I guess those folks should just suck it up huh? Hey, maybe the cattle operation will reimburse them the thousands of dollars of equity they stand to lose on their homes… Oh wait, pigs still can’t fly, dang it.

              • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/08/2015 - 08:57 am.

                Or you could reimburse the farmer for the thousands of dollars they will lose because they can’t expand or are forced to quit. Dealing with odor and dust are part of living in the country where ag practices occur unless you would like to switch and have ag done in urban places. Property values won’t change from a 400 head milking operation to 1000 or whatever number it is. There is no proof values have changed at all.

                • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/08/2015 - 10:29 am.

                  Yes

                  The my parents property valuation assessment must have just been a figment of their imaginations then. Sorry, but being unable to open the windows three months of the year, and having the back of the house turn brown during spraying season is more than just some “dust and odor”. Oh did I mention we lived in town too? Sorry if it doesn’t fit your “farmers as innocent victims” narrative, but it’s truth. It really very simple, operations such as the one mentioned the article have been bad neighbors in the past, the townsfolk and the Citizens board didn’t just come up with this opposition on a whim, what reason should they take it on faith that this operation will be a good neighbor now. They are well within their rights as fellow citizens to make sure that this proposal is scrutinized to the fullest extent possible. If, as you claim, there is no problem here, then the proposal will go forward. If the family farm in question finds they are unwilling to stand for such scrutiny, they are welcome to set up shop elsewhere. No one has the right to impugn on another citizens quality of life, or destroy the natural resources that are a communally held asset of all citizens. If they cannot meet those standards, or refuse to verify that they can meet those standards to the satisfaction of ALL interested stakeholders, they have no business proceeding.

                  • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/08/2015 - 02:25 pm.

                    spraying

                    Your parents individual issue has no bearing on the issues raised with the proposed feedlot. Not only that but what was spraying season? When I grew up in the 70’s – 90’s there was no spraying season since most farmers still cultivated the crops and spraying became more popular when narrow rows became the rage in the mid to late 90’s making cultivation in the growing season very difficult. Times have changed greatly since then and under a NPDES permit this feedlot would be permitted exactly zero runoff. All manure storage is designed by engineers based on science to have very little (there are defined acceptable amounts for earthen) to no leakage. Air emissions are also regulated by the MPCA. The DNR handles the issue of water appropriation which was likely taken care off by the feedlot owners since feedlots that large are under intense scrutiny. Can you define what exactly caused the decline in valuation on the assessment? If it is not listed on the assessment as a cause of the decline then you cannot specifically state the cause was due to anything. It’s sounding more like a whim all the time to me. I’ve seen the operations run by this family first hand and know them to be very clean with little to no odor, zero actions taken against them by the MPCA, and zero complaints from any neighbors.

  3. Submitted by John Ferman on 06/03/2015 - 11:27 am.

    MPCA Board Remembered

    When I joined the MPCA staff, as the nuclear engineer, I found myself before the Board many times. I found their awareness of the inner parts of the issues to be good – most had read a lot. I found their questions to be pertinent and incisive. And in those years, individual board members coukd initiate problem/issue subjects – this showed a form of leadership. Were MPCA management to brush off citizen concerns, those citizens could appeal to a board member – this demonstrated a form of access that citizens never had before. It was notable, too, that board members had experience that brought real talent to the Board. There was a real doctor, for example. But over the years the board started to decline in capability and interest group influence grew – ag interests soon became a given. Then the Carlson dilutions: no more board member power to frame agenda, making MPCA Commissioner the Board Chair with power to control agenda AND what information could even come before the Board. I always thought the Carlson changes were devised to degrade the Board in such a way to cause it to be an unnecessary appendage and worthy of removal. So the Carlson objective now comes true. Now dissatisfied citizens have only one alternative and that is appeals to US EPA – a not inexpensive prospect.

  4. Submitted by Richard O on 06/03/2015 - 01:01 pm.

    “McNamara says that board

    “McNamara says that board merely gets in the way of the great work being done by agency ‘scientists.’ ”

    If that statement isn’t a trigger, then I don’t know what one is. Translated, this sentiment is saying “get out of our way kids and let the big boys do their work.” I hope Mr Dayton stands up to this bullying.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/03/2015 - 01:37 pm.

      quote

      You’ve misunderstood the quote. What he means is the work done by agency scientists in creating the EAW worksheet that addresses the citizen concerns. It is independent people that complete the EAW not agency scientists.

  5. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/03/2015 - 01:15 pm.

    Big Brother is Big Business

    Huge feed lots have great potential to pollute -they do all the time. It is the responsibility of the business to make sure that doesn’t happen, a responsibility that they often fail and are only held responsible for if the public stands up for its rights. How many time have we heard “just trust us” only to be let down. Tough questions are the only way to protect the public interest, because big business cannot be trusted to do us right. It is not our responsibility to clean up the messes they create, or to allow it to happen if it is clear they won’t be held accountable for their actions.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/03/2015 - 01:35 pm.

      polluting feedlots

      Have you ever read the list of APO’s from the MPCA? Very few feedlots and even less of them “Huge” feedlots are on the list. Your assertion that they do all the time is not correct even by a long shot. Feedlots with 1000AU or more are under intense regulation by the MPCA more so than smaller ones and must adhere to more strict standards than smaller ones. I should also mention that the proposed feedlot completed an EAW utilizing independent people to assess environmental impact not MPCA scientists which addresses citizen concerns. The citizen board then decided on their own with no scientific backing to force the feedlot owners to go through another very expensive hoop that was shown to not be required and get an EIS.

  6. Submitted by Bobby King on 06/03/2015 - 02:07 pm.

    Big ag wants rural voices silenced

    I hope Governor Dayton stands strong on this. The Citizens’ Board provides direct access to decision makers for citizens as well as transparency and accountability. This is a cornerstone of democracy.
    The fact is that most rural residents, including farmers, don’t want to live beside massive factory farms. The only way to force them into communities that don’t want them is to strip away ways for rural citizens to effectively raise concerns. This massive factory farm did not have enough acreage secured to handle the 75 million gallons of manure they were going to produce or guarantee that the 100 MILLION gallons of water they were going to use a year wouldn’t deplete the already stressed aquifer. The Citizens’ Board rightly said this needs more review. But more to the point, even if you don’t agree with that decision how does that justify eliminating the board?

  7. Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/03/2015 - 04:52 pm.

    Special Interests: The tail wagging the dog

    “… studies are expensive and cumbersome and, since the recession of 2008, most large companies have discovered it’s easier to bully than study. ‘We’ll take our jobs elsewhere’ has become the standard approach to countering state regulations and would-be regulators.”

    Minnesotans should be asking, “What’s going on here? Who ‘owns’ this state and is in charge? Its people or its businesses?”

    A person would THINK it would be the people, but as this bit of bad legislation shows (and it’s just one of many on this year’s list of destructive pieces of legislation), that isn’t the case.

    A few basic facts:

    Number of businesses in Minnesota: 496,657

    Number of farms (and farmers) in Minnesota: 74,542

    Being generous and adding those two groups together (farms are most likely included in the overall businesses count, but), it means business owners and farmers together have 570,000 votes, “representational shares” or say in what the laws of the Minnesota ought to say and do.

    Number of People in Minnesota: 5,457,173 (76% over age 18)

    So, being generous again, and figuring just 70% are old enough to vote, that would mean all the people of Minnesota have just over 3,820,000 votes, “representational shares” or say in what the laws of the Minnesota ought to say and do.

    Business and farm owners: 570,000 votes.

    Non-business or farm-owning Minnesotans: 3,250,000 votes.

    Put another way, Minnesotans that don’t own farms or businesses SHOULD have 85% of the say on issues like, “Should or should there not be a Citizens Advisory Board?” and business owners and farmers should have 15%.

    So again, we should be asking, “What’s going on here? Who ‘owns’ and is in charge of this state? The people or its businesses?”

    Do you favor getting rid of the citizen’s advisory board?

    Do more than half (2,750,000) of the people in the state favor it?

    Something tells me they wouldn’t if consulted, but, apparently, that doesn’t matter.

    Why not?

    Because a tiny handful of those millions of people’s “representatives” decided the Citizen’s Board was a bad idea that was “only getting in the way.”

    In the way of what? Business owners? Farmers?

    Oh. Okay. The rest of us will just step aside then. Excuse us for sticking our noses in.

    We seem to like it when we find out we have higher per capita incomes than neighboring states, higher job creation and lower unemployment rates, better health rates, etc.. Maybe it’s time we start looking for, finding and implementing ways to make sure we become the number one state in America when it comes to determining and having the Will of Minnesota’s People carried out in our legislature.

    Those 570,000 Minnesota businesses and farms need the “good will,” cooperation and business of their other 4,800,000 fellow Minnesotans a lot more than those people need to bend over backwards and swallow whatever business says “is best.”

    I don’t know how “Business” got themselves into the Wizard of Oz position, but if they insist on continuing this “Let us do what we want or we’ll take our political contributions, our businesses and jobs elsewhere” game, I suggest we adopt Gregg Kappahn’s idea of helping them pack. Minnesotans are resourceful. We might miss them a little at first, but I’m pretty sure we’d be able to figure out something.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/04/2015 - 03:30 pm.

      “Put another way, Minnesotans that don’t own farms or businesses SHOULD have 85% of the say on issues like, “Should or should there not be a Citizens Advisory Board?” and business owners and farmers should have 15%.

      So again, we should be asking, “What’s going on here? Who ‘owns’ and is in charge of this state? The people or its businesses?””

      If the 85% were educated on the issues that would be fine but the fact is they are not and that is why we have experts to correct them. Unfortunately the citizens board did not rely on those experts and chose to act on citizens baseless concerns even though those concerns were already addressed.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/05/2015 - 10:59 am.

        Baselss concerns

        How many times has the Citizen’s Board met and addressed issues and concerns since it was formed, Joe? How many times did they take unnecessary actions out of baseless, uniformed concern over non-existent problems? Which instances were those and what were they about?

        And while I’m aware that you believe the majority of the state’s pollution is caused by people living in cities and by the mercury created by burning coal, do you think agriculture is adding to the pollution of Minnesota’s water? If so, in what ways, and what is agriculture doing on its own to minimize that?

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/08/2015 - 02:16 pm.

          pollution

          I would have no way of knowing any of that but it is clear that in this case they overstepped their bounds and are clearly not serving the originally intended function of the board.

          I never said the majority of the states pollution is caused by people living in cities. Cite the specific place please. What I said is that the majority of the states polluted waters are polluted by mercury not anything else and this is proven by the list of impaired waters the MPCA has on their webpage. I also said that Dayton proposed legislation to reduce the amount of pollution caused by farmers with his buffers but has proposed nothing else to reduce mercury pollution or pollution from urban areas despite being named a source in the same MPCA study he cites as the reason for buffers. It would take a long time and be far to much to read here to list al the ways ag is minimizing pollution. One very good example would be the type of tillage done nowdays. It is not common to see anyone plowing a field anymore but 30 years ago that was the primary fall tillage method which left little residue on the surface. Todays fall tillage leaves residue on the surface which leads to less pollution.

          • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/08/2015 - 07:50 pm.

            Oh. Okay.

            So you have no way of knowing how many times the Citizen’s Board has acted, or what they’ve acted on, or how many times they acted on a baseless basis, etc., but you ARE informed (and not one of the uninformed dolts that make up the other 85% of Minnesota’s population) and you are certain that Board should be abolished because, in the one case you are fully aware of, they “overstepped their bounds and are clearly not serving the originally intended function of the board.”

            But if you don’t know what other actions they’ve taken, and you can’t point to other examples of what you consider “baseless bad behavior,” how can you be so sure they’re not serving their “originally intended function”?

            Which, by the way, is what?

            And, even though I think no- and low-till is great, since you didn’t answer my question about how agriculture MIGHT be contributing to water pollution, maybe we could keep it simple and just take one possible way.

            Nitrates.

            What do you think about the stuff this May 7 Mpls Star article had to say about them? Do you think the MN Dept of Health is off-base and overstepping their bounds too when they say,

            “Farm-related nitrate pollution represents a growing chemical threat to Minnesota’s drinking water”?

            and…

            “Nitrate, a compound of nitrogen and oxygen, comes from many sources, including manure, septic systems and natural decomposition of organic matter. But the report said fertilizers applied to land used for row-crop production are the biggest influence on Minnesota’s ground and surface water nitrate levels.”

            http://www.startribune.com/nitrates-from-agriculture-a-growing-threat-to-minnesota-drinking-water/302799071/

            And please focus on the part about nitrates being used in agriculture and not on “many sources.” I wasn’t asking about other sources of pollution (above), I was asking you about those related to agriculture. (Sometimes it seems like you don’t want to talk about that side of the story.)

            • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/09/2015 - 09:00 am.

              my point

              I think you are missing my point. The board is not serving it’s intended purpose and in at least this case did not rely on good science, facts, or experts when ordering an EIS when the EAW had already been done and had already answered citizens questions (that is the purpose of doing one). It is really just pointless to keep the board if they don’t serve the purpose they were intended to serve.

              I guess I’m not sure what answer you were looking for as far as how ag might be contributing to water pollution. I thought you were asking what ag is doing to prevent pollution. The nitrates referenced in the article primarily from row crop operations and are more likely to come from non-animal ag farmers then they are to come from feedlots since use of commercial fertilizer is not regulated and is abused while manure is regulated and closely watched. I guess I’m not sure why you are bringing this up since we are talking about feedlots here rather than crop farmers (I know it can come from livestock manure but is not as much of an issue due to the heavy regulation of manure) Could you please explain how this relates to the feedlot in question since it would have been required to be constructed to the highest standards and the application of the manure is highly regulated because I’m just not seeing a major issue of nitrates from feedlots. Nitrates happen and there really isn’t a way to stop them even when rates are in line with crop needs. We have no way of predicting or preventing the saturated conditions we saw last spring that likely produced leaching of nitrates but nutrients do need to go on the fields for the crops before they are planted. How would preventing one feedlot protect ground water since the land they planned to apply manure on is still crop land which gets manure/fertilizer applied to it even without the feedlot?

  8. Submitted by Rod Loper on 06/04/2015 - 07:45 am.

    McNamara blows smoke

    Elsewhere in his bill is a provision to subject MPCA “scientists” decisions and permits to an outside review by experts. Why not just fill the empty chairs vacated by this law with big ag and mining
    lobbyists? This would be too much transparency for what’s going on these days.

  9. Submitted by Peggy Reinhardt on 06/04/2015 - 09:36 am.

    Not just an agriculture issue

    Consider what else the MPCA Citizens’ Advisory Board would review: frac-sand mining, location of oil pipelines, discharges into rivers and streams, air quality, to name a few issues with pollution potential. This agency is huge, and now the opportunity for some broader citizen review is lost. It is precisely the narrow focus of some local approving governing bodies that requires additional “big picture” input by a statewide citizens board.

    And . . . these ag. businesses hide behind the positive appellation of “farmer.” Truth be told: 9000 cows is a factory farm and to say otherwise is an embarrassment to anyone who grew up on a true family farm.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/04/2015 - 03:34 pm.

      factory farms

      If someone was to say that anyone who raises more than 4 kids is a factory that would sound pretty silly too so what makes you think you can dictate how many cows a factory farm is when it is family owned? We all grew up in different places and some on larger farms than others but that doesn’t give anyone the right to try to restrict the size of a farm and therefore amount of income someone can earn nor does it give anyone the right to put labels like this on farms of certain sizes. There is no truth in calling it a factory farm. What’s next? Calling farms over a certain number of acres corn factories?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/04/2015 - 05:00 pm.

        Factory farms

        A farm is a business. There are all kinds of restrictions placed on businesses because of the environmental hazards they pose. A hazardous waste dump, even a family owned one, cannot be located in a residential neighborhood. Size restrictions are imposed on businesses to minimize the interference with the surrounding area. Cows, as even this city kid knows, generate waste, and large amounts of that waste are hazardous, or disruptive to the “quiet enjoyment” of neighboring property. The fact that the cows are “family owned” does not make that waste safe, or unobjectionable.

        “Corn factories?” If the shoe fits . . .

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/05/2015 - 09:27 am.

          no idea

          I have no idea where you are coming up with this stuff. Have you seen the feedlot application for this dairy at all? Is it proposed to be located in a residential zone? I doubt that very much. I am sure it is proposed to be in ag zoned land otherwise local zoning would prohibit it in the first place. Should rural residents not be prepared to deal with some odor and dust at some times of the year? I have also never heard of any business ever being restricted to staying a certain size ever. Name one please. Businesses everywhere are allowed to expand and be as big as they need to be if they follow all the rules and permitting they are required to. Animal waste will never be unobjectionable but it is reasonable to accept that it needs to be stored and applied to crop land at certain times of the year at agronomic rates to provide essential nutrients to crops. The MPCA would never permit such a facility if it did not have enough land available to apply the manure without exceeding accepted rates creating an environmental concern. This business would also have to adhere to restrictions from the MPCA due to the fact that feedlots are regulated in our state. The MPCA asseses and monitors the environmental hazards from feedlots.

          • Submitted by Eric Sannerud on 06/05/2015 - 06:09 pm.

            But in whose interest were those standards, zones, restrictions?

            The letter of the law isn’t the highest bar – the same interests that have finally succeed in removing explicit citizen involvement in critical activities of the MPCA has an outwieghted involvement in adjusting standards, zoning codes, and restrictions.
            See MN Corn Growers, MN Farmers Union, MAWRC, etc.
            The argument that if an entity is meeting the letter of the law does not mean that entity is not creating negative impacts in it’s neighborhood.

            • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/08/2015 - 09:11 am.

              negative impacts

              Thus the EAW which was completed to assess those impacts and ignored by the citizens board. The owners of the feedlot have done their due diligence and does everything they can to minimize any impact on neighbors so why should the citizens board be pushed by environmentalists to for the feedlot to go though another costly EIS that is not necessary? How do you know the letter of the law isn’t the highest bar when you don’t even know what rules the feedlot has to adhere to? I am fully aware of the rules and know where the bar is set. BTW zoning and adjusting standards are totally separate from MPCA.

              • Submitted by Alan Muller on 06/29/2015 - 11:34 am.

                Smithers wrong, wrong, wrong…..

                Mr. Smithers, I’ve read all your comments and nothing you say is the least bit convincing.

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