GOP senators air grievances in job review for MPCA leader

Senate Republicans aired a list of grievances Monday as they reviewed the job performance of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop, the latest cabinet member to face tough questions and the potential loss of her job amid disputes between Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and the Senate GOP majority.

Several GOP senators objected to how the Walz administration is bypassing the Legislature as it drafts new clean car rules that would bring Minnesota into line with 14 other states, including California. Some accused Bishop of improperly soliciting letters of support from entities that her agency regulates. And others criticized how the MPCA has handled some high-profile pollution cleanups.

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But the joint hearing by two Senate environment committees ended with some Republicans saying they looked forward to working with Bishop in the future. That contrasted with a confirmation hearing Friday for Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley, who could potentially be ousted for appealing the green-light that Enbridge Energy got from independent utility regulators to proceed with its controversial Line 3 replacement project.

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Senate Republicans recently removed Walz’s labor and industry commissioner in a dispute over how the governor uses emergency powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Senators can’t vote on confirming other commissioners unless Walz calls another special session.