Writing their own report cards

Allowing firms to assess their own projects is foolish.

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a misguided bill that allows corporations to draft their own environmental impact statements.
These statements detail every potential consequence a proposed industrial project could have on the environment. They are reserved for the largest, most complex and most potentially environmentally harmful ventures such as mines or mills.
Currently the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is responsible for writing these statements. The DNR usually contracts a third party to aid in the process.
Now corporations will be able to conduct assessments of their own proposed projects. The conflict of interest here is astounding âÄî at best, results will be sugar-coated. At worst, they could be incomplete or misleading.
Even if a corporation has good intentions, the temptation to draft a biased report that shows its project in a favorable light is incredible. Given the obvious interest the company has in the approval of its proposal, giving them that responsibility seems to be poor policy.
The billâÄôs supporters argue that it will eliminate redundancies. In fact the companiesâÄô impact statements will still be subject to a review by the DNR.  If a review is truly thorough, then the DNR will repeat much of the process to verify results, which may create as many redundancies as the new law eliminates.
This law sacrifices the effectiveness of the environmental impact statement process for what supporters like to call efficient. But no matter how good the intentions of a corporation may be, one cannot expect it to act impartially in a situation where its bottom line hinges on the results.