After the council has received a site application, the attorney general shall appoint an assistant attorney general as a counsel for the environment. The counsel for the environment shall represent the public and its interest in protecting the quality of the environment. Costs incurred by the counsel for the environment in the performance of these duties shall be charged to the office of the attorney general, and shall not be a charge against the appropriation to the energy facility site evaluation council. He or she shall be accorded all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of an attorney representing a party in a formal action. This section shall not be construed to prevent any person from being heard or represented by counsel in accordance with the other provisions of this chapter.