The Senate last week passed a three-bill package of legislation to increase transparency and accountability of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). All three bills passed with 26-11 votes.
Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart) and Senator David Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) introduced Senate Bill 652, Senate Bill 653 and Senate Bill 654, which would create an Environmental Rules Committee, Environmental Permit Appeals Panel and Environmental Science Advisory Board respectively to reform permitting and rules processes within the DEQ.
The Environmental Rules Committee would amend the Administrative Procedures Act to provide an authoritative body to review, amend, deny and approve DEQ rule promulgation. This is based on a similar body that has operated in Indiana since 1996.
The Environmental Permit Appeals Panel would amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to develop an appeals board that would upon request serve as a scientific permit review panel similar to the body in environmental remediation (324.20114e) to hear an appeal by a permit applicant that has been denied by the DEQ. Final decision-making would reside with the DEQ Director.
The Environmental Science Advisory Board would codify into NREPA the reestablishment of the body to hear scientific environmental evidence and provide recommendation to the Governor and/or DEQ Director. Michigan had operated an environmental science advisory board since the 1980s, until it was abolished in 2009 by executive order under Governor Granholm.
The three bills will now move to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Check out a summary of the three-bill package for a greater overview of the legislation and participate in the MMA Environmental Policy Committee to be among the first in Michigan to aid the state’s environmental policymaking process.
This item first appeared in the 2/5/18 issue of MFG Voice.