More than 50 citizens apply to be on state's environment board replacement

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It was gone, but not for long, and interest is high among citizens who want to be involved in a new group providing advice to state officials on protecting Minnesota's environment from pollution.

The latest legislative session saw the dismantling of the Citizens' Board that had powers over contentious decisions put before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

The board's abolition happened much to the chagrin of Governor Mark Dayton, who reluctantly signed off on it to avoid a government shutdown, despite describing the environment bill as "terrible."

But earlier this month, the Governor took the first step toward reinstating the board, which provided public oversight on projects that had the potential to harm Minnesota's environment. Dayton issued an executive order that will see citizens join a new committee that will advise the MPCA.

And interest in joining the new board has been high, with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State telling BringMeTheNews it has received 56 applications within the three-week period it was accepting them.

Although it won't initially have the same authority over MPCA decisions as the previous board did, the MPCA's Commissioner John Linc Stine told the Star Tribune the organization would listen to its views before key decisions on permits, environmental reviews and pollution exemptions.

According to MPR, Dayton is keen to give the committee the former board's powers, but this is not likely to happen until next year.

The Secretary of State's office said it is still taking applications even though the soft deadline of 21 days to get applications in has elapsed, but it has said that the Governor is now free to begin making appointments without seeing later applications.

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