August 22, 2012  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was established by the Minnesota Legislature as a State Agency in 1967. Since that time laws have been enacted designed to protect air, land and water.  The MPCA has seen staff and program growth and decline.  In the past few years few years due to budget pressures and other issues MPCA resources have been stretched.

For years the MPCA has worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office whose attorneys provided counsel to the MPCA on administrative matters and, when necessary, represented the MPCA in state and federal courts and before administrative law judges from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.  At one time 14 attorneys in the Environmental Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office represented the MPCA.  There was close collaboration – although not necessarily always agreement – between the MPCA and the Attorney General’s Office.  In recent years the Attorney General’s Office was reorganized and that office also faced budget pressures, staffing reductions and attrition as attorneys left public service or retired.

Today the MPCA announced that it was establishing an internal Legal Services Unit.  Two current Attorney General staff, Kathleen Williams and Carmen Netten, will be joining the MPCA.  Kathleen Winters will serve as General Counsel and Carmen Netten will serve as a staff attorney.  A second staff attorney position will be filled before the end of the year.  The announcement, which was distributed to MPCA staff and a copy of which appears below, indicates that the change will add legal advice capacity inside the MPCA on non-litigation, administrative matters, allowing the Attorney General’s Office staff to focus its staff time on litigation and more complex permitting an enforcement cases for the MPCA.  A number of other state agencies have made the shift to hiring internal counsel.  Many states across the country have adopted this model of representation of state agency clients.

From: Beeman, Michelle (MPCA)
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:44 AM
To: #MPCA_All Staff-PCA
Cc: Olson, Karen (Karen.Olson@ag.state.mn.us); Netten, Carmen (AAG); Winters, Kathleen (AAG)
Subject: Legal Services Unit

 

Good morning,

I am very pleased to announce that the MPCA is formally establishing its first internal Legal Services Unit.  This Unit is designed to add legal advice capacity inside the MPCA on non-litigation, administrative matters, allowing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to focus its staff time on litigation and more complex permitting and enforcement cases for the agency.  The Legal Services Unit will be headed up by a lead attorney, titled the General Counsel, and we are excited to name Kathleen Winters to the position.  As many of you know, Kathleen has been an Assistant Attorney General at the AGO for the past 29 years, representing the MPCA on a wide variety of matters, including serving as the Lead Air Quality attorney for many years.  She has also served as counsel to the Environmental Quality Board, and previously represented the Office of Environmental Assistance.  Kathleen’s experience with litigation, rulemaking, the Office of Administrative Hearings, environmental permitting, and compliance and enforcement, make her especially qualified to take on this new role of General Counsel, and oversee the integration of the new legal unit with the ongoing legal support and work of the AGO.

In addition to the General Counsel, I am also pleased to announce that the first of two staff attorney positions will be filled by Carmen Netten.  Carmen has also served as one of our attorneys at the AGO, working for that office since 1995.  Carmen has extensive experience over the past 17 years representing the MPCA, DNR and Department of Agriculture on various remediation programs, brownfield redevelopment, petroleum tanks, Superfund, Clean Water Act and the Closed Landfill programs.  She has served as lead counsel for the MPCA on the TCAAP case, and as with Kathleen, has experience with environmental litigation, administrative hearings, data practices, rulemaking, and many other administrative law processes that the MPCA faces each day.

The General Counsel will report to the Deputy Commissioner, and will administratively be part of the Operations Division.  Both Kathleen and Carmen will be officially starting with the MPCA in September, but of course they continue to maintain caseloads for the agency right now.  The second staff attorney position should be filled before the end of the calendar year.  Over the next 4-6 weeks we will work closely with the AGO on the transition of work between the AGO and the Legal Services Unit, and the necessary adjustments to Kathleen and Carmen’s individual case assignments.  If you have questions about individual legal advice matters in the coming weeks, please talk with your Division Director or myself, and we will do our best to clarify matters during the transition.

The Commissioner and I are excited to launch this new effort for the MPCA, and ask that you join us in welcoming Kathleen and Carmen to the Agency.

Michelle

Michelle Beeman

Deputy Commissioner

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

651-757-2013

Environmental law attorney Joseph Maternowski tracks developments in environmental law on the state and federal level. Joe began his legal career in 1985 in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where he represented the MPCA.  His practice is now devoted to the handling of permitting and enforcement matters. For information on Joe’s background and practice please visit his You Tube site and watch two videos at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1Ybc9Acm8k and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJTDvveG0jY.

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