Michigan Cleanup Legislation Moves Forward

3 Jun 2010

Last week, I testified before the Michigan Senate Natural Resource and Environment Committee regarding proposed changes to Part 201 of the Michigan Environmental Code. Six bills were voted out of committee (SB1345-1349 and SB 437) which are still being fine tuned. These bills are designed to do a number of things, not the least of which are:

1. improving the process for achieving closure finality;
2. continue the right to pursue self implemented cleanups;
3. creating a board to review MDNRE’s decisions on closure issues;
4. addressing the MDNRE’s application of GSI GSI Not a TV Show….;
5. require MDNRE to report statistics on closures requested, granted and denied; and
6. make clear that MDNRE’s operational memoranda are not binding.

These changes aren’t perfect but do advance the cause of getting closures approved when a site of contamination has been remediated. That’s been hard until now. There are many folks arguing, in particular, that: (a) the review panel should be rendered powerless; and (b) a person should only conduct government-supervised (no self implemented) cleanups when groundwater is venting to surface water. These two changes would not advance the cause of regulatory simplification. Streamlining and minimizing the State’s regulatory burden is something we all agree is important and leaving no check and balance on MDNRE’s refusal to approve closures would do the exact opposite.

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