The Michigan Chamber today issued the following statement in response to Senate passage of much-needed legislation to strengthen and improve administrative rulemaking at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Expanding openness, accountability and transparency at the DEQ is a top legislative priority for the Michigan Chamber.
"We applaud the Michigan Senate for passing Senate Bills 652-654 to require more stakeholder involvement earlier in the DEQ rulemaking process," said Michigan Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley. "This reform legislation will change rulemaking from a bureaucratic process to a more open process with participation by a wide range of stakeholders."
"This legislation will create a more cooperative rulemaking process, where stakeholders and DEQ staff will have more meaningful interactions that produce better policy outcomes," noted Jason Geer, Director of Energy & Environmental Policy for the Michigan Chamber. "Both the Science Advisory Board and the permit appeal panel will ensure that DEQ decisions are focused on the science rather than personal opinions or politics."
SBs 652-654 establishes an 11-member stakeholder committee with diverse representations from sections including environmental, conservation, local governments, medical, the general public, public utilities, small business, manufacturers, solid waste, oil and gas, and agriculture - with the power to review all proposed environmental rules and amend them if necessary. The legislation also creates a permit appeal board with members selected by the DEQ director and reestablishes the environmental science review board to ensure the protection of citizens from environmental threats.
"It's time to reinvent the top-down regulatory culture at the DEQ and we believe this legislation will get the job done," said Studley. "We strongly encourage the State House to pass this package of bills as soon as possible to keep our state moving forward."