Local oversight and management of the state’s Clean Water Act permitting program through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) is again in jeopardy of being revoked by the Environmental Protection Agency following a December 2016 program review (related story).
In response, the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) and Michigan Chamber of Commerce have submitted a joint letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting the agency conduct a re-review of the state-run program.
“For more than 30 years, Michigan has effectively managed the state’s wetlands permitting program under delegated authority from the EPA,” said Matt Smego, MFB Government Relations Department Manager. “We believe our state’s program is functionally equivalent to and as stringent as the standards imposed by the Clean Water Act.”
The letter details 11 legal arguments against the EPA’s determination and the exemptions lost in the review which included:
The letter summarizes, “It is our belief that the EPA’s final determination regarding Michigan’s revised program was in error, as it appeared to discount, if not entirely neglect, a number of mitigating factors and legal principles that would, together, mandate the opposite conclusion: that Michigan’s program, as amended, is functionally equivalent to and at least as stringent as the standards imposed by CWA Section 404 and should therefore be approved, as written. For this reason, we believe a second review of Michigan’s amended program is both appropriate and necessary.”
Signed by MFB President Carl Bednarski and Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Richard Studley, the organizations collectively represent thousands of individuals and businesses that are impacted daily by the Clean Water Act requirements and would prefer the program allow them to work locally with DEQ experts who understand Michigan’s complicated wetlands, streams and lakes.