The Michigan State Senate is considering a package of three (3) bills that would affect some reform on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The bill package includes Senate Bill Nos. 652, 653, and 654. These bills would establish a committee, a panel, and a board that would oversee, review or advise the State on environmental matters as follows.

Senate Bill 652 establishes the Environmental Rules Review Committee. This Committee would be possess the authority to review, amend, deny or approve MDEQ rules. The Committee would be made up of eleven (11) members appointed by the Governor with advice and consent from the Senate. Members would represent various groups having an interest in the development of environmental rules. Several of the identified interests who would be represented include environmental conservancy, agriculture, manufacturing, and local governments. In addition, the makeup of the committee can contain no more than six (6) members who represent the same political party.

Senate Bill 653 creates the Permit Appeals Panel which would, upon request, hear appeals brought by permit applicants that have been denied a permit or who are unhappy with a final permit issued by MDEQ. The Panel would authorize the MDEQ Director to contact the applicant directly in an attempt to reach a resolution. If one cannot be reached, the Panel would hear the appeal and is required to make a decision to: adopt, modify, or reverse, in whole or in part, the MDEQ's original permit decision.

Senate Bill 654 re-establishes the Environmental Science Advisory Board that was disbanded in 2009 by an executive order from then Governor Granholm. The Board would serve to advise the Governor and any State office, agency or department specified by the Governor on issues affecting the protection of the environment or the management of natural resources in Michigan.

This package of bills was approved out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on December 7, 2017 and are now being considered for presentation to the Senate for a floor vote. Similar legislation is being introduced in the House. The Governor's office has not yet reviewed these bills. If they are passed by the legislature, it is unclear whether the Governor would sign them.

Trinity will keep you posted on further developments.