Environmental Review Program: Ombuds Pilot

Ombuds Pilot

The Environmental Quality Board is excited to announce the start of an ombuds pilot. Denise Wilson will serve as the Environmental Quality Board Ombuds for the duration of this pilot. This pilot will last six months (January to June 2023) to provide guidance and support for navigating the incorporation of climate assessments into environmental documents.

The EQB ombuds role is a neutral, informal, and independent resource in place to help identify and resolve potential barriers for implementing these new requirements. The ombuds will compile and report any substantive concerns to the Environmental Review Implementation Subcommittee (ERIS) chair, to identify the best course of action for resolution.

Denise Wilson may be contacted through phone by calling 651-757-2523 or via email at denise.wilson@state.mn.us.

Helpful information about the ombuds role

What is an Ombuds?

An Ombuds (om-budz) is a neutral, informal, and independent resource person who may be contacted to help resolve issues that could not be resolved through normal procedure.

How can an ombuds help me?

The ombuds ensures all sides are heard and creative problem solving can take place. The EQB ombuds duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting independent evaluations of concerns raised by project proposers, responsible governmental units, and members of the public about climate assessments
  • Assisting in the resolution of complaints and disputes with implementation of climate assessments
  • Arranging for and assisting in the preparation of program climate assessment guidance documents
  • Assisting responsible governmental units, project proposers, and members of the public to ensure a shared understanding of environmental review program purpose and regulatory procedures
  • Acting as a liaison sharing technical information and expertise from EQB-member agency staff, to limit the vulnerability of any one agency in guiding the decisions of another state agency or local governments.


When requested, the ombuds position could attend/convene meetings:

  • With/between RGUs in a safe space for dialogue
  • With/between members of the public and RGUs in a safe space for dialogue

The Ombuds will...

  • Advocate for the effective implementation of the environmental review program
  • Listen to all parties
  • Ask questions to clarify the issue
  • Seek to understand what the parties want to see happen
  • Work to generate options for resolution
  • Help all parties weigh the pros and cons of the options to find one that is mutually acceptable

The Ombuds will not...

  • Advocate for one party or point of view
  • Replace formal regulatorily-required procedures
  • Provide legal advice or opinions
  • Act as the final decision maker

What does it mean to be neutral?

Neutrality means that the Ombuds’ role is not to advocate for any one individual but to advocate for a fair process. The Ombud’s practice is to listen to all sides of a story and try to help the individuals find creative solutions or check facts to resolve the issue. The Ombuds’ role is not to pass judgment but to help the parties move forward toa meaningful resolution.

What does it mean to be informal?

The Ombuds role does not provide a formal or legal option or opinion that produces records, makes binding decisions, or protects rights granted by a system or organization. By taking an issue to the Ombuds, visitors should expect that informal processes like listening, brainstorming, clarifying, and facilitating identification of options will take place to help resolve an issue.