What does a Rick Snyder MDNRE look like?

24 Nov 2010

With a new governor, how will the MDNRE be to deal with?  Many feel that the department has been reluctant to issue permits and approve closures and has been overly aggressive in their enforcement of environmental laws, rules and regulations.   In 2008, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce did a survey of satisfaction of the business community with the MDEQ and found its ratings dismally low (More than 50% rated the MDEQ a “C” or lower).  There is clearly a lot of room for improvement.  Mr. Snyder has a lot on his plate with budgets, taxes film incentives and generally reinventing government, but the question remains, what is Mr. Snyder’s agenda for the MDNRE? 

During his acceptance speech, Mr. Snyder mentioned three things that may indicate how he plans to “reinvent” the MDNRE.  He spoke about: (1) protecting Michigan’s abundant natural resources; (2) treating all taxpayers, businesses included, as customers worthy of  respect and appropriate treatment; and (3) not treating the regulated community as “guilty until proven innocent.” 

These all relate to many aspects of Michigan’s regulatory regime but resound specifically with those businesses regulated by the MDNRE as the business community clearly has felt that it was treated with suspcision if not outright hostility.  While the current MDNRE director, Rebecca Humphries has tendered her resignation (pro forma for department heads), the big question is, can Mr. Snyder change a buracracy that has been entrenched for over 25 years?  It seems likely that he will support legislative changes of the sort currently pending in the Legislature.  

Finally, Mr. Snyder’s position on film incentives has been much discussed although no one seems quite sure what he plans to do about them once in office.  What is less well known is his position on the various brownfield and green energy incentives that the State has put into place to drive development back into urban areas and into new technologies.   These incentives have resulted in redirecting investment although many argue that the cost per job is too high.   He talked on the campaign trail about supporting Detroit and other urban centers.   Will Mr. Snyder keep brownfield tax credits and brownfield tax increment financing?  Will he continue the Centers of Energy Excellence program?   Stay tuned.

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