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02/22/2018 - Michigan Senate Bills could limit MDEQ cleanup enforcement

Scio Residents for Safe Water would like to alert you to three Michigan Senate Bills, SB 652, SB 653, and SB 654 that have passed the Michigan Senate and are waiting action in the Michigan House of Representatives.  We believe that these bills could seriously limit the ability of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, MDEQ, to enforce clean-up of toxic sites.

SB 652 would amend the Administrative Procedures Act to establish an Environmental Rules Review Committee to oversee all rule-making of the MDEQ.   SB 653 would add Part 26 to the Natural Resources and Environmental Act to establish the Permit Appeal Panel.   This Panel would decide appeals of permit application or content decisions issued by the MDEQ.  SB 654 would establish the Environmental Science Advisory Board to advise the Governor on issues affecting the protection of the environment or management of natural resources in Michigan.  

This legislation would significantly limit the ability of MDEQ to establish rules and obtain strong permits for clean-up sites.  It introduces a political process in place of evidenced-based decisions by professionally qualified MDEQ staff.  The creation of an Advisory Board is an unnecessary replication of the role of MDEQ staff.  There is no clear need for an Advisory Board.  Scio Residents for Safe Water is opposed to this package of bills.

Action Needed:   Write, call, or email your representative and Governor Snyder expressing your opposition to these bills.

Approved by:  Roger Rayle, Chair; Patty Benson, Vice-Chair; David Neal, Secretary-Treasurer; Board Members:  Demetri Politis, Lou Saalbach, and Will Hathaway

UPDATE: The Senate passes the bills and on May 22, the Michigan House approved the set of bills with some minor changes. Now the bills go back to the Senate for deliberation before going on to Governor Synder for his approval.

Some quotes from the Bridge article link above:

"The legislation would create private-sector panels — including one largely populated with industry representatives — that could override agency decisions on rules and permits."

"The proposal would undercut DEQ’s power by allowing governor-appointed panels to overturn agency decisions."

Email message from SRSW chair Roger Rayle about the bills:
"This set of bills will allow corporate reps to overturn whatever environmental protection rules the DEQ's Collaborative Stakeholders Initiatives didn't already weaken if the corporate interests don't like them. Seems unconstitutional to me. Not just puts the foxes in charge of the henhouse... it lets foxes write the building codes for henhouses, e.g. easy open fox doors."

Message left on Governor Snyder's website from SRSW chair Roger Rayle about the bills:
'Gov Snyder must veto the set of bills approved by the Michigan House yesterday that weaken the DEQ's rule making. It lets corporate interests have final say on environmental protections that have already gone through the rule making process. Michigan House approves bills letting industry vote on environmental rules https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-environment-watch/michigan-house-approves-bills-letting-industry-vote-environmental-rules 

This set of bills will allow corporate reps to overturn whatever environmental protection rules the DEQ's Collaborative Stakeholders Initiatives didn't already weaken if the corporate interests don't like them.  

Seems unconstitutional to me.  These bills not just put the "foxes" in charge of the "henhouse"... it lets "foxes" revise the "building codes" for "henhouses", e.g. "easy-open fox doors".'


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