On the heels of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order making numerous changes to environmental and rulemaking government functions and responsibilities—including abolishing three Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) oversight panels—the Legislature is acting quickly on a resolution to overturn the order.
Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) is supporting House Concurrent Resolution 1 that passed the chamber 58-51 on Wednesday. HCR 1 was then considered by the Senate Oversight Committee Thursday. While the committee did not vote on the resolution, Chair Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) indicated they will reconvene next week on the issue.
Earlier in the week, MFB expressed disappointment in Whitmer’s decision to eliminate the panels created just last year to increase transparency and accountability within the DEQ.
“It’s unfortunate for Michigan residents and businesses that the Environmental Science Advisory Board, Environmental Rules Review Committee and Environmental Permit Review Commission were eliminated prior to even having the opportunity to function,” MFB President Carl Bednarski said. “The structure developed was focused on finding cooperative solutions, based on law and rule and supported by science, to maintain environmental protection without creating undue regulatory burdens.
Rep. James Lower (R-Clark Lake) is sponsoring HCR 1 and was one of several individuals testifying before the committee.
“What the Executive Order did is overstep the will of the Legislature and certainly the will of the people of the state of Michigan when last term we put in place three review panels that would allow citizens, businesses and interest groups that would be affected by environmental resolutions to have input on that process as those rules are being made,” Lower said. “This new governor is attempting to basically de facto veto those after they have gone into effect.”
Former Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), who sponsored the 2018 legislation creating the three oversight panels, also shared his support.
“The whole idea behind this thing, was to come up with a process that allowed community, individual citizen to go forth and air their grievances without concern that there’d be reprisal against them or to try and go to court,” Casperson stated before the committee. “We’re trying to find a way for transparency that removes that vast discretion that the department has and the goal behind it is that we all – all of us – follow the rules and the law and that includes the government and that’s what the intent was (of the panels).”