Dayton: MPCA staffer ‘crossed line’

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said he is deeply concerned that a state staffer working on pipeline issues may have "really crossed the line" into advocacy against one such project.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said he is deeply concerned that a state staffer working on pipeline issues may have “really crossed the line” into advocacy against one such project.

“Somebody who’s behind the scenes crossing over the regulatory line and taking one side or another is very inappropriate,” the governor said.
The governor was addressing emails from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulator Scott Lucas regarding the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline, slated to bring crude across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin.
In one email, Lucas highlighted a report that he said “could be a very useful tool for us to use when making our case against Sandpiper in this area of the state.” In another, he asks if a public meeting involved “much BS on behalf of Enbridge.” Enbridge is the company seeking to build the pipeline. The email recipients included a large group of people with environmental concerns about the proposed pipeline.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency launched an investigation into Lucas’ emails and behavior after the Pioneer Press inquired about them Tuesday. Republican pipeline supporters say they show that the Dayton administration is acting against needed developments. State officials said the emails caused concern that Lucas may not be the impartial regulator he is supposed to be.
“I take it very seriously, and most importantly, because the integrity of a regulatory agency like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is (based on) the fairness and objectivity of the people who uphold those laws and regulations,” Dayton said.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor has steadfastly said he supports the Sandpiper pipeline.
Republican lawmakers said they see Lucas’ emails as clear evidence that Dayton’s administration has opposed the pipeline.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he has long been concerned that the administration has delayed Sandpiper but, until seeing the emails, “We had no idea to the level that it went.”
Daudt, R-Crown, said he views the emails as “pretty damning evidence” that people with the administration had conspired with those who opposed the project. He said he believes that a full investigation of Lucas and other staffers would find other staffers behaved similarly.

Related Topics: ENVIRONMENT
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