In 1979, Michigan adopted the first wetlands program in the country when the Legislature adopted the Goemaere-Anderson Wetlands Protection Act. In 1984, Michigan became the first state in the country to receive federal delegation to administer the Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting authority by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers.
Delegation allows Michigan to manage federal permitting that benefits Michigan permit holders by having defined permitting reviews and a more local staff to interact. The program costs Michigan taxpayers approximately $2 million per year. Michigan and New Jersey are the only two states to have delegated status; however, several states are in the process of requesting delegation. Over the years, thirty states have explored assumption, but rejected pursuing it due to lack of resources, uncertainty over the extent of waters that can be assumed, and the need for significant modifications to existing state statutes and regulations. Most recently these have included Oregon, Alaska, Minnesota, and Virginia.
There have been numerous reviews of the consistency of Michigan’s laws with the Clean Water Act in order to maintain our delegated status. Most recently, reviews were conducted in 1997 and 2013 and both reviews generated suggested amendments to state law by USEPA in order to retain our delegated authority. In December 2016, Michigan again received suggested changes to our state law. In total there are approximately 14 amendments requested by USEPA. Michigan Farm Bureau is working with other stakeholders and the State of Michigan to request another review with the Trump Administration. If USEPA’s view does not change, Michigan will once again be requested to change our law in order to retain our delegation. MFB policy supports retention of the federal delegation and the changes made under PA 98 of 2013 (last amendments to our Wetlands Act).
Thoughts to Consider
MFB: #90 Wetlands Protection Act