Michigan Brownfield Closure Legislation Moves One Step Forward

11 Nov 2010

The ability to achieve closure more easily and hold MDNRE accountable when they deny closure or other approvals took giant steps forward over the last week in the lame duck session.

Yesterday, the Michigan House passed a package of bills, HB 6358, HB 6359, HB 6360, HB 6361, HB 6362, HB 6363, HB 6416 and HB 6417 which largely parallel those passed by the Senate previously.  Also, last week the Senate passed SB 1442 and SB 1443 which parallel 6416 and 6417. 

These last four bills were the quid pro quo for the brownfield package and would amend the voter-approved 2002 Sewer Bond that allowed the State to borrow $1 Billion to assist rebuilding aging wastewater treatment systems.  These bills are designed to free up some of the $650 Million remaining by streamlining the funding process for municipalities and directing up to $140 million to clean “orphan” industrial sites.

Reportedly, a couple of last minute changes were made that require this to go back to the Senate, including a two year extension of the 7/8 cent gas tax to fund underground storage tank cleanups.  The bills will go to the Senate for action next week and, hopefully, the Governor’s signature.  As we’ve reported previously,  if enacted into law, these bills should enable more sites where cleanups have been done  to receive “closure” status and thereby allow their redevelopment by, among other things:

1. improving the process for achieving closure finality;
2. continuing the right to pursue self implemented cleanups;
3. creating a board to review MDNRE’s denials of closures;
4. addressing MDNRE’s application of GSI to make closure easier when true surface water isn’t threatened; and
5. requiring MDNRE to report statistics on closures requested, granted and denied.

I’m delighted that this package, which I helped craft, appears to be on the way to making Michigan an easier place to do business.  If you’d like more information about the legislation, including getting copies of the bills, let me know.

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