Is a kinder, gentler, more pro-business MDEQ on the horizon?

29 Feb 2012

The Detroit News and others have been touting the recommendations (found here) of the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) on environmental regulations.  Is this, combined with Anne Couture’s CSI program, a sign of a tipping point toward a more pro-business MDEQ as many are saying?  I give this, at best, a definite “maybe.”

While eliminating 10% of the MDEQ’s rules (as some have calculated) sounds like a good thing, on closer examination, many of the rules slated to be eliminated are redundant or have been superseded by legislation.   The CSI report is supposed to be available in about two weeks but these two reports are just that – reports.  The regulatory and statutory changes recommended (while a good starting point) still need to be drafted and enacted and that can take months, if not years, if it ever happens.

As I said last May when the ORR process started, I am a firm believer that the issue in Michigan is far less with the rules than it is with the goals and intentions of the MDEQ staff interpreting those rules, and the agency staff isn’t changing so fast.

That said, some of the ORR recommendations that focus on MDEQ policy, such as eliminating the top-secret and very contentious Quality Review Team and finally seeking nominees for the closure review panel, have already been put into effect or in motion and that absolutely is a positive sign.


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