Continuous Improvement for Minnesota’s Environmental Review Program

Minnesota’s Environmental Review Program (ER Program) was created in 1973 to provide usable information to communities, decision makers, and project proposers for a wide variety of projects. Historically, program updates occurred through legislative direction, mandatory category evaluation, and other initiatives usually in response to a specific issue. We recognize the need for a modern, comprehensive approach to environmental review that adapts to current and future environmental challenges and technical advances in tools, resources, and scientific knowledge.

The goal of this continuous improvement process is to identify and prioritize program changes in a strategic, transparent, and efficient manner.This effort will be facilitated with the help of Management Analysis Development (MAD) consultants from Minnesota Management and Budget. Consultants serve as a third party to transparently evaluate feedback and design criteria for prioritizing program improvements.


Continuous Improvement Project Timeline*

December 2022-January 2023 Background research, including collating past reports and interviewing other states culminated in a memo titled:  "Research summary on environmental review effectiveness for continuous improvement"
December 2022-March 2023  Feedback collected via an online platform called Engagement HQ and an in-person information gathering meeting open to anyone
January-June 2023 Analyze research and feedback to better define what makes an effective environmental review program; Define program improvements; Define criteria for prioritizing improvements; MAD will work with the Environmental Quality Board to refine deliverables through a series of presentations
June 2023 Final deliverables including program improvements, pathways for their implementation, and a way to prioritize implementation

*This schedule is subject to change; notices will appear in EQB Monitor. Subscribe today!

How will your feedback be used?

Your feedback will be analyzed and considered by third party consultants alongside background research. MAD will also research on other state’s environmental review programs and gather feedback from interested persons or organizations. The consultants will use your comments as they prepare final recommendations on program improvements and criteria for prioritization to the board. 

The consultants will also review background documents, including past Environmental Review Program evaluations. For instance, in 2007, a report was requested by the board to evaluate the ideas that resulted from previous reports, studies and efforts related to improvement of the Environmental Review Program. A 2011 evaluation report drafted by the Office of the Legislative Auditor examined the environmental review process, briefly surveyed previous evaluation efforts and presented key findings as well as recommendations related to improving timeliness of review and meeting program objectives.

What is the purpose for the project?

To modernize environmental review in a way that upholds the original intent of Minnesota Statute 116D: to protect the environment and provide usable information to the public and decisionmakers. This project will help the board identify areas of improvement, define an effective program, create a standardized way of prioritizing the most impactful improvements, and develop a standardized way of enacting necessary changes.

Scope of the project: What are “improvements”?

Improvements that are in scope:  Updates to forms, updates to guidance, areas of focus (such as including health into the environmental review program), accessibility updates, changes to statute or rule, data-gathering updates, etc.


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