New DEQ Director stakes out new priorities – a new balancing act?

17 Feb 2011

Last week at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Quality Committee, Dan Wyant, the new Director of the MDEQ attended.  During our meeting he staked out three priorities for the MDEQ, in no particular order: (1) the MDEQ must provide excellent stewardship of Michigan’s environmental resources; (2) the MDEQ must become a partner in fostering economic development; and (3) the MDEQ must provide excellent customer service.

The first priority is no surprise.  Michigan has always stood for stewardship of the State’s environment and ecology.  The second is very new.  This recognizes that the environment can be a driver for the economy as green energy and green technology are the newest thing.  The third is a long standing complaint of Michigan’s businesses, large and small.  A few years ago, the Michigan Chamber did a survey on the quality of the MDEQ’s service and, bluntly, the MDEQ scored something on the order of a resounding D+.  The Governor spoke on election night about State agencies treating their “customers” like customers and not adversaries.  This, along with speed, quality, responsiveness and being willing to apply appropriate levels of risk tolerance, are all important aspects of customer service.  

Hopefully the rank and file of the MDEQ staff will take these issues to heart, balancing all three appropriately and not favoring the certainty of  environmental protection over the provision of good quality customer service and properly protective economic development.   It’s easy to protect the environment when you don’t permit any projects and don’t approve any permits. That’s not what Governor Snyder or Mr. Wyant or the State of Michigan want or need.

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