SAINT PAUL – The Minnesota Chamber Foundation is providing recommendations to improve Minnesota’s permitting process after completing a six-month data-driven analysis. Doug Loon, President and CEO, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce says,“This study from the Chamber Foundation provides the quantitative data required to improve this system without lowering our high standards, ensuring that Minnesota can accelerate economic investments while protecting our natural environment.”

Key findings of the study include: 

  • Minnesota typically issues Tier 1 air and water permits in a timely manner, but larger projects requiring a Tier 2 permit face substantial and persistent delays. 
  • “Non-priority” Tier 2 permits can face years-long backlogs. 
  • Minnesota’s air permitting review times are 1.5 to 6 times longer than other peer states evaluated in this study. 
  • Minnesota could achieve meaningful economic gains by reducing permitting timelines. 
  • Minnesota has more extensive environmental review requirements than peer states. 

The research examined Minnesota’s air, water and wetland permitting process, along with environmental review. In addition to the analysis around timeliness and certainty, the study compared Minnesota to neighboring and peer states, reveals the economic impact of delays and uncovers the challenges impacting transparency. The report also identifies clear and actionable strategies to streamline permitting for new business investments. 

In the report, there are three overarching recommendations for improving Minnesota’s permitting system. 

  1. Minnesota must reduce the time it takes to issue priority Tier 2 air and water permits, bringing the average and median time frames closer to the agency’s 150-day goal. 
  2. State regulators should address the backlogs of permit renewals and minor facility changes for air and water permits. 
  3. Minnesota should improve transparency, certainty and collaboration throughout Minnesota’s permitting and environmental review programs. 

“We hope this report serves as a useful resource for policy makers, agency leaders and the business community to work together to improve Minnesota’s environmental permitting process,” said Jennifer Byers, Executive Director, Minnesota Chamber Foundation. “The report recommendations provide a menu of opportunities to enhance and accelerate our permitting process to ensure that Minnesota can compete for investment.”  More information is available at