as introduced - 79th Legislature (1995 - 1996) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to the environment; environmental quality 1.3 board; modifying the environmental review program; 1.4 amending Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 116D.04, 1.5 subdivisions 1a, 2a, 2b, and 5a. 1.6 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.7 Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 116D.04, 1.8 subdivision 1a, is amended to read: 1.9 Subd. 1a. For the purposes of this chapter, the following 1.10 terms have the meanings given to them in this subdivision. 1.11 (a) "Natural resources" has the meaning given it in section 1.12 116B.02, subdivision 4. 1.13 (b) "Pollution, impairment or destruction" has the meaning 1.14 given it in section 116B.02, subdivision 5. 1.15 (c) "Environmental assessment worksheet" means a brief 1.16 document which is designed to set out the basic facts, including 1.17 mitigation measures which will be included in the action to 1.18 reduce or avoid environmental effects, necessary to determine 1.19 whether an environmental impact statement is required for a 1.20 proposed action and to identify alternatives to the action which 1.21 have been considered by the proposer of the project or the 1.22 responsible governmental unit. 1.23 (d) "Governmental action" means activities, including 1.24 projects wholly or partially conducted, permitted, assisted, 1.25 financed, regulated, or approved by units of government 2.1 including the federal government. 2.2 (e) "Governmental unit" means any state agency and any 2.3 general or special purpose unit of government in the state 2.4 including, but not limited to, watershed districts organized 2.5 under chapter 103D, counties, towns, cities, port authorities, 2.6 housing authorities, and economic development authorities 2.7 established under sections 469.090 to 469.108, but not including 2.8 courts, school districts, and regional development commissions 2.9 other than the metropolitan council. 2.10 Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 116D.04, 2.11 subdivision 2a, is amended to read: 2.12 Subd. 2a. Where there is potential for significant 2.13 environmental effects resulting from any major governmental 2.14 action, the action shall be preceded by a detailed environmental 2.15 impact statement prepared by the responsible governmental unit. 2.16 The environmental impact statement shall be an analytical rather 2.17 than an encyclopedic document which describes the proposed 2.18 action in detail, analyzes its significant environmental 2.19 impacts, discusses appropriate alternatives to the proposed 2.20 action and their impacts, and explores methods by which adverse 2.21 environmental impacts of an action could be mitigated. The 2.22 environmental impact statement shall also analyze those 2.23 economic, employment and sociological effects that cannot be 2.24 avoided should the action be implemented. To ensure its use in 2.25 the decision making process, the environmental impact statement 2.26 shall be prepared as early as practical in the formulation of an 2.27 action. 2.28 (a) The board shall by rule establish categories of actions 2.29 for which environmental impact statements and for which 2.30 environmental assessment worksheets shall be prepared as well as 2.31 categories of actions for which no environmental review is 2.32 required under this section. 2.33 (b) The responsible governmental unit shall promptly 2.34
publish notice of the completion of an environmental assessment2.35 worksheet in a manner to be determined by the board and shall2.36 provide copies of the environmental assessment worksheet to the 3.1 board and its member agencies and other persons in a manner to 3.2 be determined by the board. If the chair of the board or the 3.3 chair's designee determines that the environmental assessment 3.4 worksheet is incomplete, the document shall be returned to the 3.5 responsible governmental unit for correction of the deficiencies 3.6 prior to publication of the notice. 3.7 (1) Notice of the completion of the environmental 3.8 assessment worksheet shall be published in a manner to be 3.9 determined by the board. Comments on the need for an 3.10 environmental impact statement may be submitted to the 3.11 responsible governmental unit during a 30 day period following 3.12 publication of the notice that an environmental assessment 3.13 worksheet has been completed. 3.14 (2) The responsible governmental unit's decision on the 3.15 need for an environmental impact statement shall be based on the 3.16 environmental assessment worksheet and the comments received 3.17 during the comment period, and any other information collected 3.18 during the course of completion of the environmental assessment 3.19 worksheet process. 3.20 (3) A decision on the need for an environmental impact 3.21 statement shall be made within 15 days after the close of the 3.22 comment period. The board's chair may extend the 15 day period 3.23 by not more than 15 additional days upon the request of the 3.24 responsible governmental unit. The responsible governmental 3.25 unit may postpone its decision on the need for an environmental 3.26 impact statement even further upon the agreement of the project 3.27 proposer. 3.28 (4) The responsible governmental unit may postpone its 3.29 decision on the need for an environmental impact statement in 3.30 order to conduct studies to obtain further information if the 3.31 responsible governmental unit determines that such information 3.32 is necessary to characterize or assess the magnitude of one or 3.33 more potentially significant environmental impacts or to assess 3.34 the extent to which such impacts can be mitigated, provided that 3.35 the information can reasonably be expected to be obtained within 3.36 90 days of initiation of the studies, or a longer period of time 4.1 to which the project proposer agrees. The proposer of the 4.2 action shall be responsible for the reasonable costs of the 4.3 studies. All persons who were required to be provided copies of 4.4 the environmental assessment worksheet under paragraph (b) and 4.5 all persons who submitted substantive and timely comments on the 4.6 environmental assessment worksheet or who request a copy shall 4.7 receive a summary of the results of the studies and be afforded 4.8 at least 15 days to comment on the information from the 4.9 studies. A responsible governmental unit may not extend the 4.10 time for determining whether to prepare an environmental impact 4.11 statement more than once under this paragraph. 4.12 (5) In making its decision on the need for an environmental 4.13 impact statement, the responsible governmental unit shall 4.14 consider the extent to which identified potential environmental 4.15 impacts will be reduced or avoided by mitigation measures or 4.16 changes in the project as proposed. Only those mitigation 4.17 measures or changes that are actually committed to by the 4.18 project proposer shall be considered. If the project proposer 4.19 subsequently decides not to implement mitigation measures or 4.20 project changes, the project proposer must once again comply 4.21 with the requirements of this chapter for environmental review. 4.22 Those mitigation measures and project changes considered by the 4.23 responsible governmental unit in making its decision on the need 4.24 for an environmental impact statement must be implemented as 4.25 part of the action and must be incorporated as conditions in any 4.26 applicable permits and approvals issued for the action by the 4.27 responsible governmental unit. 4.28 (6) The responsible governmental unit shall promptly file 4.29 its record supporting its decision on the need for an 4.30 environmental impact statement with the board and other persons 4.31 and agencies which submitted timely and substantive comments. 4.32 The record shall include responses to all timely and substantive 4.33 comments and shall identify specific mitigation measures that 4.34 will be implemented as part of the action to reduce or avoid 4.35 potentially significant environmental effects. 4.36 (7) Within ten working days of receipt of the notice and 5.1 record of a decision, the chair of the board may suspend the 5.2 decision and remand the matter to the responsible governmental 5.3 unit for reconsideration. The chair may remand the decision if 5.4 the chair determines, upon a review of the record and any other 5.5 evidence available to the chair, that the responsible 5.6 governmental unit has failed to follow the applicable procedures 5.7 or has failed to comply with substantive requirements for the 5.8 preparation of an environmental assessment worksheet or has made 5.9 a decision that does not appear to the chair to be supported by 5.10 the record. The chair shall explain in writing the reasons for 5.11 the remanding of the matter. 5.12 (8) The responsible governmental unit shall reconsider the 5.13 need for an environmental impact statement within 15 days of 5.14 receipt of the notice of remand from the chair and shall file 5.15 notice and the record of its reconsideration with the board 5.16 within five days. If the responsible governmental unit 5.17 determines to gather additional data or redo a procedural step 5.18 or to prepare an environmental impact statement, the process 5.19 shall continue in accordance with the requirements of this 5.20 chapter and the rules of the board. The chair may not remand 5.21 the reconsidered decision. 5.22 (c) An environmental assessment worksheet shall also be 5.23 prepared for a proposed action whenever material evidence 5.24 accompanying a petition by not less than 25150 individuals ,5.25 submitted before the proposed project has received final 5.26 approval by the appropriate governmental units or, if the 5.27 proposer has given notice as provided in paragraph (d), before 5.28 the expiration of the time limit specified in paragraph (d), 5.29 demonstrates that, because of the nature or location of a 5.30 proposed action, there may be potential for significant 5.31 environmental effects. Petitions requesting the preparation of 5.32 an environmental assessment worksheet shall be submitted to the 5.33 board. The chair of the board shall determine the appropriate 5.34 responsible governmental unit and forward the petition to it. A 5.35 decision on the need for an environmental assessment worksheet 5.36 shall be made by the responsible governmental unit within 15 6.1 days after the petition is received by the responsible 6.2 governmental unit. The board's chair may extend the 15 day 6.3 period by not more than 15 additional days upon request of the 6.4 responsible governmental unit. The responsible governmental 6.5 unit may extend the time period even further upon agreement of 6.6 the project proposer. 6.7 (d) The board shall by rule establish a process by which 6.8 the proposer of an action may give public notice of the 6.9 impending action. The rules shall address, at a minimum: the 6.10 content of the notices, which must include information about the 6.11 action's description, its location, and necessary state, local, 6.12 and federal permits that must be secured for the action; and a 6.13 requirement that the notice appear in at least two issues of a 6.14 newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed 6.15 action dated at least one week apart and also in at least one 6.16 issue of the EQB Monitor. If the proposer of an action provides 6.17 notice in accordance with the established process, no petition 6.18 under paragraph (c) may be filed on the action later than 60 6.19 days after the notice has been given. The proposer shall be 6.20 responsible for maintaining evidence that proper notice has been 6.21 given. 6.22 (d)(e) The board may, prior to final approval of a 6.23 proposed project, require preparation of an environmental 6.24 assessment worksheet by a responsible governmental unit selected 6.25 by the board for any action where environmental review under 6.26 this section has not been specifically provided for by rule or 6.27 otherwise initiated. 6.28 (e)(f) An early and open process shall be utilized to 6.29 limit the scope of the environmental impact statement to a 6.30 discussion of those impacts, which, because of the nature or 6.31 location of the project, have the potential for significant 6.32 environmental effects. The same process shall be utilized to 6.33 determine the form, content and level of detail of the statement 6.34 as well as the alternatives which are appropriate for 6.35 consideration in the statement. In addition, the permits which 6.36 will be required for the proposed action shall be identified 7.1 during the scoping process. Further, the process shall identify 7.2 those permits for which information will be developed 7.3 concurrently with the environmental impact statement. The board 7.4 shall provide in its rules for the expeditious completion of the 7.5 scoping process. The determinations reached in the process 7.6 shall be incorporated into the order requiring the preparation 7.7 of an environmental impact statement. 7.8 (f)(g) Whenever practical, information needed by a 7.9 governmental unit for making final decisions on permits or other 7.10 actions required for a proposed project shall be developed in 7.11 conjunction with the preparation of an environmental impact 7.12 statement. 7.13 (g)(h) An environmental impact statement shall be prepared 7.14 and its adequacy determined within 280 days after notice of its 7.15 preparation unless the time is extended by consent of the 7.16 parties or by the governor for good cause. The responsible 7.17 governmental unit shall determine the adequacy of an 7.18 environmental impact statement, unless within 60 days after 7.19 notice is published that an environmental impact statement will 7.20 be prepared, the board chooses to determine the adequacy of an 7.21 environmental impact statement. If an environmental impact 7.22 statement is found to be inadequate, the responsible 7.23 governmental unit shall have 60 days to prepare an adequate 7.24 environmental impact statement. 7.25 Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 116D.04, 7.26 subdivision 2b, is amended to read: 7.27 Subd. 2b. If an environmental assessment worksheet or an 7.28 environmental impact statement is required for a governmental 7.29 action under subdivision 2a, a project may not be started and a 7.30 final governmental decision may not be made to grant a permit, 7.31 approve a project, or begin a project, until: 7.32 (1) a petition for an environmental assessment worksheet is 7.33 dismissed; 7.34 (2) a negative declaration has been issued on the need for 7.35 an environmental impact statement; 7.36 (3) the environmental impact statement has been determined 8.1 adequate; or 8.2 (4) a variance has been granted from making an 8.3 environmental impact statement by the environmental quality 8.4 board. 8.5 These prohibitions on starting a project shall continue 8.6 during the time the chair of the board is considering whether to 8.7 remand a decision by a responsible governmental unit not to 8.8 prepare an environmental impact statement and during the time 8.9 the responsible governmental unit is acting in response to the 8.10 remand by the chair. 8.11 Sec. 4. Minnesota Statutes 1994, section 116D.04, 8.12 subdivision 5a, is amended to read: 8.13 Subd. 5a. The board shall, by January 1, 1981, promulgate 8.14 rules in conformity with this chapter and the provisions of 8.15 chapter 15, establishing: 8.16 (a) The governmental unit which shall be responsible for 8.17 environmental review of a proposed action; 8.18 (b) The form and content of environmental assessment 8.19 worksheets; 8.20 (c) A scoping process in conformance with subdivision 2a, 8.21 clause (e)paragraph (f); 8.22 (d) A procedure for identifying during the scoping process 8.23 the permits necessary for a proposed action and a process for 8.24 coordinating review of appropriate permits with the preparation 8.25 of the environmental impact statement; 8.26 (e) A standard format for environmental impact statements; 8.27 (f) Standards for determining the alternatives to be 8.28 discussed in an environmental impact statement; 8.29 (g) Alternative forms of environmental review which are 8.30 acceptable pursuant to subdivision 4a; 8.31 (h) A model ordinance which may be adopted and implemented 8.32 by local governmental units in lieu of the environmental impact 8.33 statement process required by this section, providing for an 8.34 alternative form of environmental review where an action does 8.35 not require a state agency permit and is consistent with an 8.36 applicable comprehensive plan. The model ordinance shall 9.1 provide for adequate consideration of appropriate alternatives, 9.2 and shall ensure that decisions are made in accordance with the 9.3 policies and purposes of Laws 1980, chapter 447; 9.4 (i) Procedures to reduce paperwork and delay through 9.5 intergovernmental cooperation and the elimination of unnecessary 9.6 duplication of environmental reviews; 9.7 (j) Procedures for expediting the selection of consultants 9.8 by the governmental unit responsible for the preparation of an 9.9 environmental impact statement; and 9.10 (k) Any additional rules which are reasonably necessary to 9.11 carry out the requirements of this section.