First major cleanup law changes in 15 years enacted

15 Dec 2010

The law to hold MDNRE accountable when it denies closure was signed by the Governor. 

 Signed today after two (and in some cases more) years of effort were: SB 1345 ( PA 228) sponsored by Sen. Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Twp.), SB 1346 (PA 229) sponsored by Sen. Alan Sanborn (R-Richmond Twp.), SB 1348 (PA 230) sponsored by Sen. John Gleason (D-Flushing), SB 1443 (now PA 231) sponsored by Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac), HB 6359 (PA 227) sponsored by Ed Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), HB 6360 (PA 233) sponsored by Rep. Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint), HB 6363 (PA 234) sponsored by Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), and HB 6416 (PA 232) sponsored by Marty Griffin (D-Jackson).

 As I’ve reported previously,  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. streamlining and speeding the process for achieving closure finality;
2. continuing the right to pursue self implemented cleanups;
3. creating a review panel 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.

The bills also amend the voter-approved 2002 Sewer Bond to free up some of the unallocated $650 million by streamlining the funding process for municipalities and by directing up to $140 million to clean “orphan” contaminated sites posing a risk to surface water bodies.

The package isn’t without detractors.  Changes were made to the very popular and still-cutting edge BEA program late in the process which may cause more arguments than they solve.  The Legislature’s  goal was to harmonize Michigan’s program with that of other states and  to address problems with BEAs involving the use of industrial sites for industrial purposes.   The bills bar State approvals of BEAs.  Since most BEAs over the last 15 years (reportedly over 14,000) were State-approved, this change creates  new questions. Deals may go forward but there may be new disputes if there is a future release – businesses should not assume their new BEA is a panacea.

I’m delighted that this package, which I helped craft, will make Michigan an easier place to do business.  If you’d like more information about the legislation, including getting copies of the Acts, please let me know.

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