News Story

Michigan bills aim to abolish environmental rules oversight

Lawmakers disdain Environmental Rules Review Committee as ‘corporate polluters’

Bills recently introduced in the Michigan House and Senate would eliminate citizen advisory boards from the state’s environmental rule-making process.

Rep. Sharon MacDonell, D-Troy and Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Keego Harbor, introduced one bill in the House and two in the Senate that would abolish the Environmental Rules Review Committee.

The job of the committee, established during the Snyder administration, is “to oversee the rulemaking of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy” or EGLE.

The advisory boards were created to represent the interests of industries and organizations with a stake in EGLE’s environmental rules.

House Bill 4826, Senate Bill 393 and Senate Bill 394 would make it easier to for EGLE to make rules by eliminating the oversight committee.

“The (committee) which is mostly made up of corporate polluters, has stood in the way of EGLE fulfilling its mission to protect our air, water, land and people,” MacDonell said in a press release. “This is why we must get rid of the board. They tend to put their own profits over the health and lives of Michiganders everyday [sic], and that cannot continue.”

The committee has as members four ex-officio department heads and 12 people appointed by the governor. Only five members work in business, and all have ties to the green-energy and sustainability field.

The members of the Environmental Rules Review Committee are:

  • Eric Pessell, director of environmental health at the Kent County Health Department
  • Jeremy Orr, director of litigation and advocacy for Earthjustice, which, according to the organization’s website, seeks to “wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.”
  • Charles Lippstreu, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, whose Green Agri-Business Program “recognizes proactive sustainability efforts … [to] reduce environmental impact.” Green Agri-Business Program ( Lippstreu previously worked at Byrum & Fisk Communications firm, a self-proclaimed champion of clean energy.
  • Andrea Tolzdorf, director of the Emmet County Department of Public Works, whose stated vision is to “have systems that make best practices for waste reduction, reuse, recycle, and disposal”
  • Fadi Mourad, director of environmental strategy at DTE, which is on-board with green energy initiatives, agreeing recently to close its final coal-fired generating plant in 2032, three years ahead of schedule
  • Robert Mannes, CEO of Core Energy, an oil and gas company heavily involved in CO2 capture projects
  • Walker Modic, environmental and social sustainability manager at Bell’s Brewery
  • Mary Ellen Mika, director of global sustainability director at Steelcase
  • Melissa Stults, sustainability and innovations director for the city of Ann Arbor
  • Sandra Wynn-Stelt, a clinical psychologist and Kent County environmental activist
  • Michael Kelly, director of The Conservation Fund, an environmental nonprofit.
  • Douglas McClure, an Ann Arbor attorney who works in environmental law

“These boards and commissions are currently not serving any value to the state and have been a major roadblock in Michigan’s ability to keep up with the changing environmental regulatory landscape in a timely manner,” said Sen. Bayer.

Caroline Vanchura and Therese Boudreaux are Michigan Capitol Confidential interns.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.