Meeting the New DNR Commissioner

Meeting the New DNR Commissioner

morning.>>I will call the environmental and natural resources finance committee to order we’ re a little short of members today they May be missing totally today however we’ re not going to be taking any votes today we’ re going to be getting an introduction from the commissioners today. Members I hope you’ re armed with questions and we get a good feel for the new appointees to the dnr and the mpca commissioner by the new governor. I’ m looking forward to the conversation first we will start with the minnesota department of natural resources, sarah strommen commissioner. Welcome so much to the committee.>>thank you Mr. Chair.>>I know you’ ve been and now for a couple of weeks.>>I think this is week #4.>>you are already I know you come from the dnr within the dnr, but I note you know it inside and out already and the policies of the new governor you’ re armed with everything today. If you could start by introducing yourself and give us a little background and we will open it for a good dialogue.>>thank you Mr. Chair. I’ m sarah strommen I’ m the incoming or the new commissioner of the minnesota department of natural resources I really am very honored to be in this position. I have worked for the department last four years as an assistant commissioner with the division’ s the parks and trails and fish and wildlife. It has been from the last few weeks to transition to this new role. I’ m really looking forward to working with all of you and working with the team at the dnr and others.>>on behalf of the whole committee congratulations.>>thank you all share a little bit of an introduction about myself I grew up in st. Paul I’ m a proud graduate of st. Paul central high-school. My academic career is very much rooted in the biological sciences I have a bachelor’ s degree in biology from cornell college in iowa and a master of environmental management from duke university. Professional career has unfolded in minnesota I came back to minnesota after school and I’ ve worked in the areas of environmental education and environmental policy community development resource conservation, both public and private lands. I have experience working in the nonprofit sectors of local government I was all local elected officials a city council and mayor in the city of ramsey and most recently working in state government both at the board of water and soil resources and as I said the last four years at the department of natural resources. A couple of things I want to share about my background and what I bring into this role as commissioner. Number one I have a very strong passion for outdoor recreation. It really is a very important part of my family and how we spend our time together. I like to say my house outdoor time is family time and family time is outdoor time we fished together we hike together we hunt together, we can do together we visit state parks together if there’ s an outdoor activity we are probably engaged in that and my son and my husband and my two dogs and I are usually doing it together. We have a cabin in the walker area and on leech lake and my favorite activities there are watching my son paddle his kayak along the shoreline catching bass and this time of year though we are maybe on a snowmobile on a day trip to bemidji. The other thing I bring to this job really is a passion for engaging people in the decisions that affect them. As city council member and mayor and the city of ramsey I was often found to say our greatest assets inner-city or are residents and led to believe that I came to find when we worked collaboratively as a city council with our staff and with a residence on issues that were facing the city, demanding a robust discussion about those issues, the city council became better informed and we made better decisions and the community was better off. This really is the experience and approach I want to bring to the dnr to ensure the best outcomes for minnesota resources and our economy. To that and I really committed to working with our staff our stakeholders our partner agencies the legislature on the governor and everyday minnesotans listening to all voices all perspectives and ensuring that we get those best outcomes. I think one of the opportunities the dnr is our broad mission we have a three part mission. We are charged with natural resource protection we are charged with outdoor recreation and we are charged with economic development. While this can sometimes present challenges I think it also presents many opportunities because while we represent the diversity of perspectives and the diversity of goals we really share this passion for minnesota’ s resources and minnesota’ s outdoors I think our opportunity is to bring together the shared interests the sheer passion for our resources our outdoors and the economy and find those best outcomes. I think that will allow it to share one more thing I’ m really proud of the leadership team that we have built here at the dnr. Just to let you know in addition to the commissioner’ s office obviously we have a deputy commissioner we have three assistant commissioners we have four regional directors the seven divisions in our general counsel and a special assistant to the commissioner. All those positions have been named with yesterday’ s most recent announcement and I want to say i think we have a really outstanding team they bring a diversity of experience the diversity of knowledge of the issues but again they all shared a passion for dnr brought mission and I think all of you are going to enjoy working with all of them as well. Mr. Chair if I can highlight a few things that I see coming down the pike and then I would be happy to take any questions. Obviously minnesotans care a great deal about our resources and there are many issues that we face these are the issues you discuss. We are still working on your specific agenda but I want to share a few highlights of some of the things we’ ve been working on the last few weeks since I took over as commissioner. These build on some of the work of the last eight years under the commissioner landwehr but in these recent weeks we have signed a memorandum of understanding committing or pheasant action plan because they’ re still a lot of work to do related to pheasant population numbers and present habitat. On the c. W. D. Front we recently last week finalized a memorandum of understanding with the board of animal health that clearly defines procedures to enable our staff to work more closely together. We’ re working to update the dnr response plan because it’ s important we preserve the health of minnesota’ s deer herd obviously but also we preserve minnesota’ s deer hunting experience. We are continuing to engage and supports local partners with projects like the sand hill river watershed project which was work we did on a tributary to the red river to create fish habitat and improve fish habitat we are continuing those kinds of projects we’ re going to continue to work with businesses and landowners to ensure they can conduct important economic activities in ways that also protect minnesota’ s resources. We’ re going to continue to focus on providing an enhancing unforgettable experiences at minnesota state parks trails and dark water recreation facilities. Let me conclude by saying during these next four years we’ re going to continue to work on all three of these areas of the dnr mission protection of resources, outdoor recreation and outdoor experiences as well as economic opportunities. I really want to focus as we do all this work to strengthen the connections between minnesotans with themselves and the outdoors. Not only through recreation opportunities but also in ways that they understand the importance of the work that we do at the dnr to minnesota’ s quality of life that is my commitment to minnesotans as we go through our work the next four years. Thank you Mr. Chair.>>thank you commissioner members if given a questions I will start out. Thank you for those comments commissioner and congratulations. The comment of collaboration and engagement maybe you heard my concerns I made them very clear with the previous commissioner with regards to working with different organizations I’ m glad to hear they’ re going to be doing that I think one thing one area that’ s growing a lot in the state of minnesota on is like associations. I’ d bring experience to that in my other life lake associations were just starting to kind of formal good this some 20 years ago I suppose the way time flies and becoming more active in wanting to keep the lakes they live on certainly clean and do whatever they can they were somewhat closely with the dnr with data and and doing cleared checks and monitoring and loon accounts of what are your comments what you feel about engaging with them they’ re becoming more active money to do more things I know it’ s a balance you do have a balance there and I know there May be some better a little bit standoffish because there May be a little overbearing at times. I think the main goal this everyone owns a lakes everyone knows that everyone has access to the lakes, why wouldn’ t we engage and a think you do we do we need to do a little better job and gazed with those who want to keep the lakes and good fashion. I guess I would like to hear your comments about working with lake associations and maybe we will go into the university minnesota aquatic invasive species how you work collaborative lead with them I had been in my office last week and they’ re doing some fantastic things with the research of their. I would like to hear your feelings on that.>>Mr. Chair thank you for. That for I absolutely believe that lake associations can play a role in helping us protect the quality of our lakes and insure there are available to the public at large at all minnesotans. I say this from person occurs my husband was once President Of our lake association so I’ ve seen the work they can do firsthand. I think we can’ t engage in some closer discussion about specifically what that role looks like. I think were the challenge comes in is where it becomes the lake association vs. The general public and I think that is not healthy way to engage in that discussion I think it’ s focusing on a common goal that we have for maintaining the lakes for everyone knows who live on lakes and those who come to use the lake from other places. I think particularly in some of the water quality monitoring the do some of them are very engaged in shoreline restoration and protection there so whole host of things and they can be very strong advocates for the work we need to do.>>I’ m glad to hear that I know there is the lake association against everybody else and I can’ t emphasize enough we need to get past that we need to get over that because the fact remains they don’ t. Own the lake they want to keep the lake nice and it’ s pretty hard to argue with that. Yes the little overbearing let’ s move too fast I get back and I’ m been involved with that long enough on glad you’ re going to keep an open mind working with them. The in aquatic invasive said they have some amazing things setter going on there actually able to tell what lakes to target for our washing stations and what not for aquatic invasive species how do you see that moving forward buse getting together with them more than what’ s been happening in the past what has happened?>>Mr. Chair thanks. I note commissioner landwehr was involved with that group I will be honest I’ m not up to speed on all of the aspects of the research but I agree with you think they’ re working on a number of very interesting and promising angles for us to do a better job of fighting aquatic invasive species clearly that’ s a huge issue for the state of minnesota we continue to see the spread and whether or not we can ultimately stem the spread completely I think certainly both through education we can slow this down and hopefully the research advances. I think having the group that focuses on the research and science to bring to bear to our decisions in how we allocate resources or what kinds of activities we do is a very useful function for them to play and I do look forward to driving it a little bit deeper to some of the specifics of their research.>>thank you. Senator you>>thank you commissioners agree to have you here today it’ s nice to meet you hopefully levitt chance to talk some more offline. One of my first questions is surrounding our mining policy and are minnesota statutes the state its the policy of the state to provide for the reverse the diversification of the mineral academies for long-term support of mineral exploration evaluation environmental research development production and commercialization. Given that how you separate some your previous jobs that might have had a position that was maybe an anti mining with your new current statutory obligation to promote exploration and commercialization of minerals?>>Mr. Chair and senator eichorn thank you for the question. Here’ s what I would say to that, again first I’ m very committed to the full spectrum of the dnr mission. Specifically to past positions I’ ve held I think what I’ m asking people to do is look at my experience in its totality that particular work experience was one piece of my work experience and people wear different hats in different jobs and if you look at my time particularly in state government and local government that work is defined by decisions that are made very carefully very objectively looking at information looking at data on following what the side boards we’ re given in statute and rules in the case of local government its zoning. Getting public input in that and then making decisions objectively and fairly as this job requires.>>thank you commissioner. Members a follow-up question.>>not necessarily follow up to some degree there May be an element of follow-up I wanted ask you about the school trust lands how you see your duty there. And how those relate to basically how you separate your statutory and constitutional and fiduciary duties to maximize the school trust for the students of the state and in my opinion the dnr has an extremely high management fees in the past and underutilization of our forest lands and mineral resources better on school trust land. How’ d you see your role there and how you turn the tide to make the change so start getting more money into the trust for our school students?>>Mr. Chair and senator eichorn, I fully understand the constitutional and fiduciary obligations to the trust. I think over the last several years the dnr has put a lot more emphasis on an obligation and we have been working on a number of internal operational policies and guidance documents ways of operating with our staff to ensure particularly when we’ re managing school trust lands that we May want to manage for other purposes that we are properly compensating the trust for that. I’ m 100% committed to continuing those efforts so we are meeting and that fiduciary responsibility to the trust.>>thank you senator bakk.>>thank you Mr. Chair commissioner on that point, there is and senator eichorn there is a provision in the constitution that allows the dnr to take management fees off of timber sales on school trust land that’ s constitutionally permissible. There is however no provision in the constitution that allows the dnr to take any revenue related to mining off the school trust fund land and I’ m bringing this up because some of you are going to be in the senate long after I’ m gone. In 2005 we had spent a long time managing deficits and gov. Pawlenty proposed taking $3 million a year $6 million for the biennium to help fund the division of minerals that the dnr. Money that otherwise would gone to the trust and we have done that every year since 2005 we’ ve taken $3 million a year money that otherwise would have gone to the trust and the dnr has used it to fund the, division of the we need the division of minerals funded but the permanent school fund committee would be wise to look at this I mean if anyone brings a suit there is no way there’ s any constitutional protection for the department taking money relating to mining of the school trust fund land. There is for logging and timber, but I would suggest to the commissioner you probably don’ t have the money to do it you should try to fix that permit the governor aware of that. $3 million a year going back to 2005 is quite a few nickels that’ s absolutely right out of the trust fund that otherwise would have been in there I want to make committee members aware of that problem that we have. I don’ t have a solution but first with a degree we have a problem.>>commissioner any comments?>>Mr. Chair and senator bottineau I appreciate the comet you share that with me before and obviously the legislature wishes to address that will be happy to engage in the discussion.>>senator bigham.>>thank you Mr. Chair and welcome thank you for being here today. A couple of concerns I have. You’ ve already mentioned the chair has as well as related to aquatic invasive species i come from county government I’ m very proud of that. We do a terrific job I think in washington county on aquatic invasive species money that is provided to the county. To use your best ability I encourage you to visit with some of the county board’ s in their projects and the processes they utilize is quite a stringent process working with the lake associations but specifically washington county May I be happy to orchestrate that I think they’ re great model. Also chronic wasting disease I’ ve spent a lot of time reading and doing research in meetings over the interim senator ruud has some fantastic bills that are getting cued up I look forward to working with both of you on that issue. It’ s a huge concern as you know a little less than 500,000 folks purchased deer hunting permits and it’ s a big part of our culture but our economy and we can’ t kick the can down the road we have to take some action here and I look forward to working with you and your staff on that I was very impressed with the special hunt last month of the month before that the sampling stations and the collaborative partnership with the university of minnesota I just would encourage the communications to keep flowing between the department and between the legislature so we can see hands-on how that is going. Come up and think you look forward to working with you.>>thank you. Senator mathews.>>thank you Mr. Chair and thank you for being here commissioner congratulations on your appointment I look forward to hopefully speaking with you more. I was informed before the meeting started about an issue I actually wanted to address and that is my local area of lake mille lacs. I want to urge with the new administration and the new leadership now urge the dnr to come up with a solution and I heard some potential good news May be coming down the pike with that and I sincerely urgently hope that good talk translates into good action. I want to encourage you as you made a comment about needing to emphasize communication and working together with multiple groups and not wanting us versus them mentality that is sometimes all my local areas felt under the old administration I hope we can work to change that. And be open for out of the box ideas I had a conversation last year when we had the third year of the lake shutdown that I worked with some of your staff on can come up with anything what ever out of the box idea we can come up with to bring the solutions to the business owners and users of the lake there. Their ideas I conceptualized in even ideas that your staff conceptualized that we put into bill form but then when that got up the chain to leadership that got squashed and it was really discouraging to my district when I had to relay that message back to them. I want to urge you with that and want to stand by and offer my assistance if there’ s anything we can do to help and that’ s the significant local issue from my district I hope the new administration can work some solutions west.>>thank you senator and commissioner I’ m glad you got the silver bullet that’ s coin answer that.>>Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to address that question. Senator mathews thank you for that obviously working with the division of fish and wildlife the last four years and the assistant commissioner role I had the opportunity the pleasure for the challenge of working on that issue. I appreciate your frustration it’ s certainly is a frustrating situation. I am happy to say we are in a much better position this year and were going have some good news to deliver on lake mille lacs what exactly that is I can’ t share with you now because we’ re still in the process of developing but given where we are this year we’ re coming into a season with no overage to pay back no harvest overage we’ re coming into a season we actually came in under the allocation last year. The population is in a better place than has been the last few years and we’ re going have some opportunity and flexibility with our regulations this year and I think part of what that will do to your point senator mathews is allow us to engage more collaborative lay in how we want to use that opportunity as in front of us and I appreciate your out of the box thinking I think those ideas will be able to bear some fruit perhaps this year given an opportunity. We are going to be engaging in conversations with the mille lacs the fisheries advisory committee and of course others who want to weigh in on this how we best use that opportunity I understand part of the frustration in prior years we asked people for input and we were between such a rock and hard place there wasn’ t any room to maneuver is frustrating as people for input when you don’ t have any room to use that input. I appreciate the difficulty of deposition of what we ask the people and a think this year were in a different situation and there really is an opportunity for them to help collaborate and now we want to use this better place we are in thank you for your participation and that conversation as well.>>senator ruud.>>Mr. Chair to that point welcome and thank you. I’ m excited with the governor’ s appointment and the team put together thank you for that. I just wanted to make a comment because my district of course pass the top half of mille lacs lake and how challenging that fishery has been. I also want to comment about I think commissioner landwehr try to do a good job of being inclusive and in the last year I was included in the attack panel’ s I was able to observe those and I was welcomed in and I thought that was an extremely helpful effort to know the scientific data that was collected and what goes into making those difficult decisions they are emotional decisions minnesota loves their walleyes trying to understand all the scientific basis to the decisions that were made was very hard. Being invited in to observe those and to see the teams and the people who were working on that and we did see it last fall at the tech meeting that we May have some good news this spring we’ re hoping for that by nature plays a big part in what happens with that big body of natural resources. I look forward to going forward with the challenges on lake mille lacs and we’ re all to the challenge I note senator mathews is working very hard on this. We look forward to having a good partnership on that lake and doing some really good fishing this summer.>>senator abeler.>>thank you. Everyone has welcomed you but I will welcome you as well I the privilege to have you be one of my mayors. You thought was hard to make 18,000 people happy welcome to 5.4 million people have an opinion how hard could that be? I’ m excited you are there I think you’ re actually well- equipped and you come from a good place with your various backgrounds and the things you believe and how we can implement that and put that in a thoughtful way. I’ m truly eager happy to be on the committee it’ s something new to focus on after all these years but there to topics I wanted to broach to you and you don’ t have to reply much except to know these are nothing is new everything all the concerns are not new. Coming from where we live where our farms have turned into they grow lots more than producing crops, and the interests people have about watersheds and clean water and all that and learning in my time about the concerns of farmers to stay open I hope your expertise and mind and the rest of the committees can find ways to bridge that divide. I think some of the discussions that were well intended could’ ve gone better and I really think you’ re a good person to help mediate some of those dialogues because I do not every farmer is interested in the water is staying clean for their family as well sometimes they get construed the other way. The people who are worried about clean water sometimes art construed as not caring about what we eat I look forward to that dialogue I think that will be interesting. The lake associations were mentioned as well. I’ ve been involved with more votes than I would’ ve thought in my time but I think you can lead in this way as well I think sometimes the members of the associations have grown up in their particular lake they know all about it but sadly they’ re not biologists corp. Scientists and a lot of times their opinion seems to be thought of being as nothing and when the real scientists the real biologist sit down if they only knew what we know about science I hope there’ s a way the body of a true knowledge can be woven into the legitimate expertise of the people of been trained and learned in those topics I’ m happy to be bridging that with you you can reply or not your head I’ m glad you’ re here and look for to working with you.>>Mr. Chair, thank you and senator abeler I appreciate that. All those years you were my senate on not sure we had an issue to work on together and now you’ re on the committee and I’ m here so I look forward to working with you. I think I do want to say I think you’ re right that those devices we can bridge and my perspective on particularly the last issue you raised is science is very important science and dated need to guide our work and that’ s certainly my academic background. Our public agency and people matter to and taking that science basis along with people’ s experiences is exactly what I think our charge is thank you for that comment.>>thank you commissioner senator weber.>>thank you Mr. Chair and thank you for being here commissioner thank you for the visit to my office last week I appreciate having an opportunity to talk about a number of issues. I think one of the things I wanted to highlight today or visit with you today deals with a conversation I had actually yesterday with one of the environmental officers in my district. This is pertaining to elect its not the lake we talked about last week by the a different way in the same county whereby the of course for the committee members most by lakes vary considerably from the lakes you have with them being shallow prairie lakes and with a lot of lakes that don’ t have debts of more than 8-12 ft.. This particular lake had May work hard to clean it and actually got to a point where it was a perfectly clear lake for a year and then of course what happened was due to its depth and the amount of sunlight that could hit the bottom we now have perfectly clear lake turn into not a lake with a weed patch but a lake full of weeds. I think been expressed great frustration as the people they’ ve been trying to work with in your department to bring this late back to a usable., quite frankly deal with the rules to deal with all lakes in general and I don’ t think we ought perhaps distinguished rules to reflect the issues that are concerning lakes in the senator bakk district of a different lakes better in my district and I want your general opinion of this I’ m not asking you for a solution today, do you think there’ s room in the process for a variation of rules and depending upon the late rather than the one size fits all which quite frankly government is all too common to implement?>>commissioner then will finished with senator tomassoni.>>Mr. Chair and senator weber I don’ t want to go too far down the road not understand the specifics of this particular case, I think certainly if we find a mismatch in what the intent of the rule this and the way it causes us to be applied in a circumstance that something we should take a look at. And you have given the two examples from your district so perhaps I can take those and work with my team to understand a little better is that the kind of situation we have here where there’ s perhaps a mismatch or is it something else? As I’ ve shared with you even if we can’ t get to appoint a man agree at the end of the day we need to understand how the same understanding of what the issue is and why that’ s the issue. I’ m very committed to doing that we will take that back and see if there is a pathway.>>senator tomassoni.>>thank you Mr. Chair and congratulations commissioner welcome aboard I know you’ re not new to this. The issue of permiting is one of the things I’ ve been way too many public meetings over the last 14 years and I think the dnr did it the very comprehensive job of dotting all the guys in crossing the t’ s when it came to poly met and went to the nth degree and I realize that permitting process was more complicated than most because there was not just the dnr in just the mpca there were seven different agencies that were involved. Anyway look at it 14 years in three entered $50 million is a little bit extravagant and somewhere along the way I’ m hoping the agency is looking at a way to do this, that for future projects that might be either mining or logging or a new business in the area, figuring out a way to do the process without taking so much time and costing so much money. Making prospective businesses that May come to the area say this is too onerous I’ m not going to locate here and a lot of it has to do with our current jobs and I think maybe as a legislature and administration we need to figure out a way to streamline the process. I realize there is some attempt to do that however in the bigger picture I believe that needs to be something concrete so we can say look what is it we don’ t know about mining that we have this study on this for 14 years we’ ve been doing it for 135 years I realize it’ s a different mineral but it still mining and mining product is pretty much the same. I know if you had that discussion yet but I would love to hear your comments.>>Mr. Chair en senator tomassoni thank you for the question. I’ ve not yet had an opportunity to drive been deeply to the permitting process but what I can say and you acknowledged some work been improvements towards efficiency and that was something the past did ministration worked towards. Clearly it’ s no one’ s go I will say it’ s not our goal at the dnr to make the process longer than it needs to be or have more components than it needs to have. I don’ t know what the right time frame was for that project but what I will say is there’ s a balance between making the project are making the process too onerous and too long and making it too short that you ultimately jeopardize the outcome of the decision and I think it’ s finding that right balance and as you said the eyes were dotted and t’ s were crossed in this particular one and that’ s the position coming into this role I want to know we’ re in a given some of the challenges setter in front of us. Absolutely we need to work to find that right balance.>>commissioner, I think we will end their thank you so much for the wonderful dialogue on look forward to working with you and members here certainly have their doors open I know for any legislation or any ideas and look forward to the governor’ s budget coming around the corner within the next week or so. Thank you very much for the great dialogue any other comments?>>Mr. Chair thank you thanks to the committee members for the great questions and dialogue I appreciate it I’ ve had the opportunity to visit with some of you individually and look for to visiting with the rest of you individually and my door also is open and I think all of you know how to find me through Mr. Meier. I will be happy to be available as you wish.>>he is kind of a moving target no question. Mr. Meyer. Let’ s move on to the second number on the agenda we will the introduction of the mpca commissioner. Laura bishop welcome to the committee congratulations and you were here for the first commissioners introduction maybe you can do something similar to that give us a little background on yourself and we will open it for some questions.>>thank you Mr. Chair. Hello, I’ m laura bishop and I’ m very honored to take on the role as the mpca commissioner. This was something that I spoke to the governor in fact about at the time and it was something I really was interested in and I can tell you little bit wide that interest is here. Certainly I met with all of you in your offices in know a little about me but for the record I will talk a little about my background. I grew up in the twin cities I live in eden prairie now with my husband and our two teenage daughters. With me I also have a background in the where it studied at the university of wisconsin forgives me for that’ s, but I studied international relations and scandinavian studies show I do speak some swedish for all of you of swedish descent we can use our swedish conversations but if you’ re of norwegian descent sorry that’ s not going to fly for me.>>I found a place to get rid of my portrait for lutefisk my lutefisk portrait know where to send back. [Laughter].>>I will say the first day I walked in to the mpca I met with a gentleman in the lobby and he said I saw your scandinavian studies background and we’ re wondering do you like hearing because we have an annual hearing fast and I don’ t I’ m sorry. Lelei is good. I also have a master’ s in public administration from the university of michigan to say I’ m a big 10 complected is a reality. My parents went to the university of minnesota and university of iowa so we are all over the board on her cheering for both teams. I’ m also a den of myself as a parent advocate I’ m on the advisory board of pacer center I have a child with disabilities and had been active in that space as well as I chair the humphrey school advisory board at the university of minnesota. What interests me in the environment? With most of you I told you about I grew up spending summers and a lot of winters at the cabin in aitkin minnesota in greater minnesota. My father and uncle were schoolteachers so they brought us kids up north for most of this summer’ s pan we spent a lot of time climbing the trees in the backyard and playing in the lake and fishing and also visiting the farm and hanging with the farm kids up the street. For that is shaped me it shaped my appreciation for the outdoors and also I’ ve seen the changes to that community the farm is no longer in operation aitkin is a changing community as well as well as the areas around their palisade and others with seen a lot of businesses and other things leave those towns that’ s a concern for me that’ s been a big part of my livelihood hope to spend a lot of time there this summer and also be up north and I will also be doing a lot of rounds of the state. It has shaped me to say the least. For the mpca for me to a different policy areas have guided me and my business and background as well. The environmental peace has been a large part the other piece has been looking at regulatory systems and complexity and regulatory systems. That’ s what drew me to the mpca. Before working at best by which I will talk about I worked for the U.S. Senate I worked in the white house I also was at the U.S. Embassy in switzerland and like every good minnesota and we moved back home so I came home in 1999 moved home and was able to look for a job here in the twin cities I got a job with honeywell so I really was intending to take my public- sector work back to the private sector. From my hire date my start date the job with honeywell fell through so what did I do? I went back to the person and said what does this mean for me because honeywell was moving to new jersey said you could go to new jersey I decided know I wanted to come back to minnesota and this is where I landed and I’ ve been ever since. The think there was interesting about the honeywell job when that fell through I had five contacts in the twin cities and that really were introducing me to the private sector and they all said and this was great contacts it was going benson, it was can we like, nate gervais different people that were involved in different realms of business and public policy and the all scared me to the ventura administration for some of you I overlap with you during the ventura administration is if you want to go into and learn about minnesota politics it’ s the best time we have democrats republicans and is independent governor trying to get things done. I learned about interacting with the minnesota legislature at that time when I was assistant commissioner at the department of administration. From there I went to best buy co. At the end of the administration I was eight months pregnant with my first child and passed by hired me to start a number of different divisions at best buy which was government affairs environmental compliance and environmental sustainability I also worked on our community giving and supply chain sustainability. It was in those roles that are really saw how business sector and the internment can coexist and the do I also saw the regulatory hurdles that businesses must go through to work both in the state and multiple states. That gave me some perspective I’ ve worked with some of you in that capacity when I was at best buy as well I also worked on legislation on electronics recycling and was here quite a bit on that to help pass the first electronic recycling that’ s not perfect but it is doing something I think what was needed it was also my first exposure to the mpca index and meetings with the people understand some of hard work those the employes there is due. What have I been doing in this meantime? But in these first four weeks now I’ ve been listening and meeting with all of you and understanding trying to understand your concerns I’ ve been taking a lot of notes and I hope you will see that I will answer as many questions today as I can but I’ m not be able to answer them all. Just know that I’ m committed to getting back to you with answers and being as thorough as possible. I’ m meeting with a lot of stakeholders some of them are here, in the business industry and in the agriculture committee the environmentalists and mayors city managers, use and other interested citizens. I’ m learning a lot about the agency I’ m filling roles in the commissioner’ s office I have filled most of my leadership team I have one assistant commissioner position that will be open that was announced yesterday there would be some changes but I have a deputy commissioner who is coming in on February 90 he starts he is peter tasker he spent with echo lab for the past 12 years in their legal department and as a background in environmental law he will be starting on the 19th before that he worked in the attorney general’ s office and as good background and good knowledge of the mpca. I’ ve been working to produce a budget for the governor within three days of starting I had to me with them and turn over a budget that’ s not easy when you come in fresh in two roles like best. I’ ve been dealing with some pretty big issues a lot of those that I’ ve talked to about regulatory issues are they too strict or too lenient those things we had discussions about on both sides and with everyone here. Public health, clean water clean, air, wild rice, landfills, they go on their not issues that easy solutions otherwise we would have been able to do it by now to do it together their issues I want to work on and continuously work on with all of you and. I understood this job would come with great responsibility and challenges and I’ m committed to doing the best job that I can. Protecting and enhancing the environment and public health mission of mpca it’ s not one person’ s job it’ s all ours and we all play a role as to the public servants at the mpca which are very committed group of people. And bringing in a new perspective and I hope that with this you’ ll give me a fresh start sort there are issues you had with the mpca I would like to work with you to address those if there are issues that are positive in nature I’ d love to hear those as well. I’ m hearing a lot of things on both sides and I appreciate that I’ d love to highlight successes I like to highlight successes in your districts I’ d like to know the challenges as well. What’ s on our radar? Minnesota’ s complex environmental issues the rules the regulations the community partners involved can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming and there’ s endless work to be done I’ m really looking at the mpca in three different areas. Efficiency and do diligence, this is something I’ ve talked to most of you about not yes we want to see how quickly and using the proper following lots and following the rulemaking procedures but things to take a long time I see that those are challenges. Sometimes it is for the purpose of getting a lot more public input in the process which can be a good thing but if they’ re going to take too long and were going to lose businesses perhaps because of the length of time we need to find everyone on the same time line I have said this would senator weber in the with for example on it true shrimp and a timeline the city had a timeline and the mpca at a time line at some point they did lineup by the discussions that were happening between those three entities did not line up we need to find that ground where they can line up and aim for those. We also have heard when there’ s an enforcement at the mpca that you can get a case worker that walks you through the enforcement from. A business from at the same time we’ re doing a permit or having other discussions with business there is in that same case worker along the way certainly resources can be a challenge for the mpca and that is something I think is really important we give the same attention to an industry member during the process of the enforcement that we would give entering the process of wanting to engage and start a business or do business with the mpca. Stakeholder engagement and communication is another one. I want to be more transparent I want to have dialogues with stakeholders it’ s something I did regularly while I was at best buy co. Some of the noisiest members that were critical of some of the best by efforts around the environment or in the consumer area we brought them in and have a stakeholder board I setup while I was there as chief sustainability officer at best buy and I intend to take feedback into the same thing but I don’ t expect people to come to me I need to go to them and you’ ll see a lot more hope on my part of getting out into greater minnesota and understanding those needs and hearing from people. The other piece with stakeholders is with a lot of different boards I’ m looking at what those boards are with the mpca to understand how stakeholder communication comes in and how those are being addressed. Then I think lastly something all of us care about is the intricacies when it comes to talking about our changing climate. This is something we will be looking at largely in the mpca but also has been a priority of gov. Walz in talking about with every flood every wild fire our safety is at risk extreme weather we have seen this we saw it when I was at best buy as well. It disrupts the industry to disrupt business in need predictability and need to be looking at this from both the environmental perspective as well as industry perspective because we need that predictability we will be looking at building an approach that works is under way you have addressed issues related to our changing climate and we’ re seeing this and other agencies as well this isn’ t something that’ s just the mpca will be doing we see it in the energy sector which is been very successful here in minnesota and so we will be working closely with congress and working in transportation as well as health and across different agencies. I know from my experience industry and environment can peacefully coexist and they do and to say it’ s a lot more the other is a false choice that’ s what I kmit this minnesotans are innovative and they produce the things we need while also respecting our most treasured resources. We all live in these areas where the lakes are thriving where our children drink the water and breathe the air we all want the same thing. I will end this by saying I want to hear from you a lot to learn from you and I want to work with you because I know at the end of the day at our mission is the same. To leave our air and land better off for the next generation thank you.>>thank you very much for that nice introduction. I’ m glad to hear you’ re going to be starting tackling issues out front and so much easier to deal with them will sometimes come here and we get caught up in our inner circle and we forget about we actually worked for and it’ s real easy to do that. As you know if you been in the public sector at all an issue is an issue for anyone unless it drops retender owned a foot right in their own lack. Until that happens then of course you know what breaks loose and you get bombarded with an awful lot of things I’ m glad to hear the concerns you have about being business friendly you hear about it very cumbersome regulations minnesota has and you have to look through that you have do not take that as a comment because we have such a jewel here in minnesota to protect. At the same time we have to be within reason and I think that’ s all we expect when we start talking about legislation and business. Thank you I will start with senator mathews.>>thank you Mr. Chair and commissioner for being here today I publicly want to congratulate you on your appointments. We spoke in my office before and I’ m very positive discussion with you. I relayed the message to one of my local cities that indicated how the small towns are impacted and it some of the concerns they’ ve had and that was validated again in my conversation with one of my towns and when I shared who the new commissioner was and your background and what I have learned from our meeting that was received positively they’ re very encouraged and hope there’ s a difference there and I had thought as you were mentioning your new staff and the people you’ re putting together and seemingly with goodwin can’ t and making sure you strengthen all areas in your department, you should consider whether you need someone from a small town city government to experience on your staff since that’ s another large part. Beyond that I wanted ask you a question about something that came to my attention since we had a meeting in our office from a statement made in a house committee. It’ s with regard to the closed landfill investment fund where a statute tells us the fund May be spent by the commissioner of the pollution- control agency after fiscal year 2020 and a comment was made saying the text of that by itself is the full authority needed to make all appropriations decisions from that point eyen and there was some consultation with some members on this committee and with counsel that under minnesota constitution every appropriation we have needs to clearly state this is appropriated for certain costs or specific project or something along that line. I understand the comment made in the other in committee was not made by you but I wanted ask you to comment on that what your view is with the appropriation and if you would share that same constitutional concern about that statement that I would have?>>Mr. Chair and senator, I’ m not familiar with that, but certainly I understand you heard from the mpca and heard that comment made. I’ m looking at this whole issue of landfills and how to do this. We’ re hearing a lot about one of scientific landfills is a problem we know this. The governor has also looked at this and indicated to me this is a concern we need to look at this longer term and beyond 2020. If you have oversight over our agency is unique to be a decision makers in our funding as well so I don’ t look at this I don’ t have a viewpoint until I talk to everyone but I don’ t see the agency making those type of appropriations and spending decisions in a vacuum has necessarily beneficial to our ongoing relationship and the long-term will mean in cooperation with the senate and legislature. For me that it needs to be the consultation process and I don’ t know the specifics about what authority it gives us after the year 2020 something and have to look at and would like to come back to you and consult with you.>>commissioner to that point, we would ask your feelings on the most recent landfill that’ s been getting all the attention will actually the most recent attention in the legislature is the freeway landfill is one that took a lot of attention a couple of years ago. The anoka out county landfill in andover and I’ m wondering how you feel or how the agency feels as it being an immediate concern? Item of danger is the right thing I’ ve been assured our drinking water is still ok in that area. How quickly it would like to see that handled and is it something that should be handled immediately in your view?>>Mr. Chair this is reference to the w d e landfill? This has been what I understand this is been debated now for the past three sessions so it’ s been identified as a problem that we have brought to you and you brought to us. Addressing that has been a priority. Then there’ s the discussion about funding and the funding does keep going up along a we wait so as far as the balancing the need and the funding I think that’ s for you to look at but we have seen the need. What’ s it been brought to my attention care is this not the absolute the drinking water is impacted right now but the future and the longer this goes on and the longer we wait the more eminent becomes and the more pressing it becomes. I do appreciate you been looking at this and looking at the funding for this and there’ s also a discussion I understand about where the funding comes from and so I would say the administration doesn’ t have a firm position yet until after the budget comes out when it needs to be funded but it is something we have said that is identified as a need and certainly the sooner we could do this the better.>>as you know I’ m actually have a bill that addresses this immediately and it actually the bill is being heard tomorrow and I want it clear in my mind how immediate this is. As you know the legislature again into a lot of grappling over this and over that at the end of the day this part of the deal and that part of the deal frankly I don’ t want anything to do with that I think it’ s been brought to my attention and to the senator ruud detention and the house as well I think it has to be done right away that we need to know that and I say that because there funding mechanisms that can be done and we can actually show minnesotans we can get together and get things done in a timely fashion. That’ s not my goal my goal is is this piece to be done and let’ s do it and I’ m talking about before the end of session. Do you consider it the media enough that could happen and handled yesterday? I can’ t nail down a date but I think we can move quickly on this if we get the administration to say it needs to be done.>>Mr. Chair I think what drives these decisions as public health first and that’ s something we need to get back to you right way to understand the risk to the ground water and other elements as well as the environmental peace. Let me get a direct answer to you from my team before you’ re hearing tomorrow.>>thank you. I will follow that up with a letter to U.N. And the administration because I’ m very serious about this I want this addressed if it needs to be done if it does not we need to know that as well. Senator weber.>>thank you Mr. Chair. Welcome commissioner thank you for being here thank you for visiting with me a couple of weeks ago and I appreciate that visit and the conversation we had and I do look forward to working with you to solve what I believe are some of the problems that exist out there. A couple of points that I would like to make I think one in light of the fact we’ ve had to 1/2 weeks passed since our visit I expressed to you as I have expressed to your staff the day before and are hearing my concerns about studies better done and eight years have elapsed and recommendations that are made there are not necessarily don’ t necessarily seem to be any great priority to the agency and I felt if they had been taken care of frankly the topic of the true shrimp would not have necessarily been an issue that day. Have you had an opportunity to think about that in the time has elapsed?>>Mr. Chair and senator weber yes I have a lot of time to think about that. I have also been exploring that this is not something I welcomed when i started the first day that it fell on my lap and you and I had that discussion about true shrimp in particular. What I can tell you as you know this issue on the specific conductance is something we’ re talking with I met with the coalition of greater minnesota cities I’ ve talked with true shrimp and we’ ve met with the city and exchanged lots of voice mails with the mayor of lavern as well to better understand this unfortunate we’ ve haven’ t been able to connect the same time. It’ s my intention to do that there was a rulemaking that was opened and we did get comments on that and there is discussion about moving to another rulemaking forward but that also takes time and we understand that and understand with true shrimp as well as other businesses coming in the city. We want to make certain into that region we’ re looking at this carefully yet also converging the economic development in that region and the things the city needs to be looking at as well to protect the water. I can say on this there is looking at writing and doing the new rules possibly next month and we would like to talk to you about how that works and go forward. Before the proposed rulemaking or even later this month before the proposed rulemaking would be there we’ re also talking with greater minnesota cities about their approach and what they’ re looking at it for that area. I want your feedback on that but it’ s not been something I’ ve been sitting and this is been something we’ ve been actively considering and would welcome more of your feedback.>>thank you a follow-up. I would say commissioner that I recognize there has been some rulemaking before there has been cut comment timeframe but here again if we go back now we need another comment time it’ s the age-old problem that frankly we experience with the agency we have a comment time we do nothing that we needed another comment timeframe and we do nothing more again that. That builds to the real frustration on the part of our committees the part of our businesses and frankly on the part of our legislators and I wish I want to be aware that. I think also as we look at the class 3 and 4 waters isn’ t just an issue for our communities but is an issue for all of our industries we have had great discussions said a substantial discussions over the past couple of years regarding sulfides and sulfates and all those things in the northern districts and there’ s a here we are decisions are made. I think to follow on that I look at some of our more standard processing plants I hear of proposed things going on in the state of minnesota yet they’ re being told by the mpca there are air quality permit will take 80 months yet these are plants we are to have plants like that in the state. Exactly why? When we don’ t have anything new in terms of processes are we taking 18 months that leads to the departure of these proposed plants across state lines where they get done in the third of the time or last. I think those are some of the things we wish to really have some meaningful change being made as I mentioned this isn’ t just a specific true shrimp or the city of lucerne or mining itself this is a change in the culture of the agency we believe needs some major overhaul.>>Mr. Chair and senator weber, thank you. It is something I recognize I’ ve heard you on this so it is something I’ m looking at and looking at what statutorily is required of us all the rulemaking process works and the time that’ s allotted as well as the resources that we have in the department to be able to do these in the agencies to be able to do these jobs. It’ s all something that is under review by me and it goes into that first bakken I talked about of efficiency and due diligence there has to be a balance and has to be if these things are taking too long I need to understand why and so do you. And you have my commitment on that.>>thank you commissioner senator simonson.>>thank you Mr. Chair. It’ s not a question perhaps just a couple of comments and welcome commissioner and congratulations I look forward to working with you as we go forward. Over the course of the last number of months as you know I’ ve had the opportunity to have a number of discussions with different communities across greater minnesota specifically and perhaps to dovetail on some of the comments senator mathews made, I think it’ s important we don’ t compare the agency going forward with the agencies of the past. This is an opportunity with a new administration a new commissioner fresh outlook not necessarily to weaken minnesota’ s regulations or rules or standards I think we can all respect those but perhaps to take a different approach how we cooperate with our local units of government our local and regional waste water operators landfill operators all of these are looming concerns challenges for U.S. To go forward. I would say the common denominator whether you’ re nw or southeast minnesota or anywhere is collaboration and communication. I would offer you this that solutions to environmental challenges and the challenges that exist between those that regulate and those who are regulated are very rarely found on the fringes for often found in the middle and it requires cooperation and look forward to having that relationship with you as we go forward and I wish you the best of luck.>>Mr. Chair and senator thank you I agree with that obviously to my experience in that and my second priority of stakeholder and communication really does involve that idea of collaboration. Morning and working closely on that and finding a middle ground is what experience I hope to bring to this role.>>thank you commissioner senator mathews.>>thank you Mr. Chair one more brief question for you commissioner. With your time in the agency thus far do you think there’ s anything you identify or any potential that could be changed and how stakeholders input into the review permit process the environmental review is there things you identified the could make that a better process moving forward?>>Mr. Chair and senator mathews, that is something I’ m looking at. I think I’ m asking the staff that oversees that as one think it’ s one thing on the permit issuance is another aspect we’ re dealing with right now with a permit the that hasn’ t on the enforcement side and understanding on the self reporting and how they’ re reporting to the agency and when things go wrong did the agency act quickly enough? Those are different discussions we’ re having right now within the agency. What I will say on this specific question and identifying I haven’ t yet but it is something I will and I’ m committed to. The element the none identifying is the ibm the hand holding that we do during the enforcement process on the person that is there as opposed to working having that contact with the people and the entity that’ s coming to us for a permit and assuring that through the process and why some permits are issued quicker than others those are all questions I’ m asking. That’ s the one piece now that I’ ve identified quickly but there will be others on looking to as well and would welcome your input.>>thank you commissioner senator ruud.>>thank you Mr. Chair and welcome commissioner. You have a lot on your plate and a lot of issues and a lot of important issues but one of the things we haven’ t really talked about yet is the jewel of minnesota up one of our biggest assets that’ s lake superior. I sit on the great lakes commission and we have had great leadership from our former commissioner commissioner linc stine is a former director of the great lakes commission. We’ ve had minnesota has had great leadership on that commission and it as you get your feet wet all the issues you have to address I would invite you to continue that leadership and be a voice for minnesota on that commission because it’ s so important and that lake is so important to the vitality of minnesota and it’ s a very interesting and wonderful learning experience. I would encourage you to be part of that critics commission.>>thank you. Senator ruud thank you for that I will say it is something I would like to do and intend to do. I appreciate your invitation to engage in that I will also say from day 11 I sent out my letter my notice to the agency to say I was starting heard directly from and the duluth office to say I hope you’ re going to continue with the great lakes commission the staff that was there was very much encouraging him to me I intend to do that.>>senator tomassoni.>>thank you Mr. Chair commissioner thank you for showing up here today and taking your questions thank you for meeting with us and our offices in being open to our suggestions I think you’ re getting some good advice today I hope you take to heart. I want to reinforce what senator weber said about I don’ t think is necessary to continue to repeat public hearing after public hearing. Because of all the public hearings into what I noticed is the same comments get said over and over again and they keep getting repeated so I don’ t think it’ s necessary to reopen the class 3 a and class for waters rulemaking process. Also, I will repeat what I said to commissioner strommen but the same goes for the mpca that they played a monumental role in getting these permits and they’ re now all out and waiting for one more from the army corps of engineers. The one little thing that hasn’ t been mentioned here which I consider to be a big thing is the cost benefit of some other things that end up happening in rural minnesota. We oftentimes are being told your need to get this much of something out of the water over a year’ s time and you need to spend $12.5 million for a little town of a thousand people. I can’ t in my wildest dreams I imagine what would make people spend all this money to do some of the things that have to be done when in effect oftentimes it’ s not enough of the small towns fault I urge you to take a good look at this because I’ ve been told many times you realize it’ s expensive but they’ re really expensive but part is the part that bothers me because really expensive is a big key and what we really get out of that? Are we saving the world by taking this much out of the water and I encourage you to make sure when you do these analyses of waste water treatment plants and small towns and rural minnesota is actually a benefit and cost benefit is something we can afford and is positive on everyone.>>mission will take that as a comet with one more senator was a question then we will have to conclude.>>thank you Mr. Chair and commissioner welcome I look forward to working with you I appreciate the prime and the discussion about the pfc issue that’ s in my neck of the woods and the staff in your commitment to working with our communities. I’ m not going to repeat I will reinforce I think the concern about making sure were working with local units of government we had that conversation but the other thing I want to say I was gone for 10 years then I came back and I think there are a lot of opportunity you can bring to your department and that is I feel there’ s a lot of it’ s all one nothing when it comes to some of the policies that we debate especially in this committee and there are groups I feel it’ s all or nothing. I would hope you keep an open mind and say we need progress and sometimes we don’ t get there with one fell swoop one legislative session there’ s a lot of issues you’ re going to be tackling whether it’ s climate change whether it’ s water quality whether it’ s trying to reorganize and streamline the process your in charge of. I hope people understand progress be sometimes be slow but it’ s progress and I hope we cannot have those discussions I hope you keep that in mind throughout the next four years.>>commissioner thank you very much for the presentation today in your introduction there’ s been some good comments in good questions. The two meetings at like representative hansard of course the immediacy of the anoka landfill issue as well as whether you can a comment the preparations can be done without the legislature that needs to be addressed immediately because it seems to be very clear in legislation the legislature has that the distinct appropriation of 40. Those two things right away we would appreciate very much and with that I think we’ re going to clear out for the next committee meeting thank you so

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