One of the bad ideas passed during last year’s Lame Duck legislative session was legislation creating two commissions, the Environmental Rules Review Committee and the Environmental Permit Review Commission. These two bodies were given the authority to overturn rules or permit decisions developed by our Dept. of Environmental Quality. Gov. Snyder then appointed members to them including the regulated industry and other stakeholders. It can easily become a case of the fox guarding the henhouse.
One of Gov. Whitmer’s recent executive order abolished those commissions, and rightly pointed out they were another layer of unaccountable bureaucracy that makes it more difficult to protect our families and our environment. The commissions can also make it harder to respond to crisis situations like the Lead Crisis in Flint and the PFAS contamination we’re seeing around the state.
The ability of the Michigan governor to abolish commissions established through legislation was established during the Engler years when Gov. Engler eliminated over two dozen boards to the happiness of the regulated community. Now this same community, in many cases the same people, are upset that Gov. Whitmer did the same thing they cheered in the 1990s.
The precedent established in the 90s also gave the legislature 60 days to overturn any executive order like that. Today, the Michigan Senate passed the House resolution, making it official. The troublesome commissions will stay in place for the time being threatening our ability to regulate polluters effectively and respond to things like PFAS.
We worked hard to show legislators the harm those commissions could cause, and we’re disappointed that they remain in place. We will keeping working hard to protect Michigan families.