A Ramsey County district court judge had earlier faulted the MPCA’s actions but did not find that the agency had violated any law and that the action did not, by itself, warrant reversing the permit. The Court of Appeals had agreed with that assessment, a decision which several environmental plaintiffs, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Friends of the Boundary Waters, have now appealed to the state’s Supreme Court. In addition to the federal workers’ union, the groups Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, the Minnesota Well Owners Organization, and two Minnesota administrative law professors, have submitted their own briefs in support of Supreme Court review and asking to be authorized as amicus, or “friend of the court” filers in the case.
In their submission, lawyers for the AFGE argued that the MPCA’s actions represented a fundamental violation of administrative process. “Simply put, when a government agency acts in secret—or deliberately obscures its motives or reasoning—it becomes difficult to tell whether the agency’s actions were lawful or fair,” states the union in its submission to the high court. “When the government hides the ball, it undermines the ‘public accountability of three administrative agencies,’diminishes ‘public access to governmental information,’ frustrates ‘public participation in the formulation of administrative rules,’ and inhibits ‘the process of judicial review.’”