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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Regulatory agencies should move at the 'speed of commerce'

We take this opportunity to clear up misconceptions about environmental legislation (HF 888) being debated at the Capitol. We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, to author legislation that increases efficiency, prevents duplication and streamlines our environmental review and permitting process in Minnesota.

Minnesotans support growing jobs and our economy while also ensuring environmental stewardship. It is not an "either/or" equation, but one that can, and does, exist together. This bill maintains the high level of environmental review and oversight that has existed in Minnesota for decades.

This legislation builds on the path of bipartisan cooperation between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton with the mutual goal of having regulatory agencies operate at the "speed of commerce." This bill encourages responsible economic development while protecting Minnesota's abundant natural resources. For example, under the proposed changes to the existing expedited permitting statute, an applicant will be able to bring the project online sooner, while the state still ensures all of the environmental protections remain in place. That's a win-win!

Lori Paris is president of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce and Doug Loon is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

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