The Michigan Chamber of Commerce Monday issued a statement expressing “disappointment” in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order eliminating the recently established environmental oversight committees. The Michigan Chamber says it believes the move will reduce public access to Michigan’s rulemaking and environmental permit processes.
The environmental oversight committees were signed into law last year to strengthen and improve environmental rulemaking by providing for increased stakeholder involvement earlier in the regulatory process.
“We encourage the legislature to seriously consider exercising its constitutional authority (Article 5, Sec. 2) to disapprove this EO,” says Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber. “The Michigan Chamber is disappointed that Gov. Whitmer decided so early to reduce openness, accountability, and transparency in the state government regulatory process.”
According to the Chamber, the executive order will silence the 12 recently appointed members of the Environmental Rules Review Committee representing the general public, conservation, environmental, public health, local government, and businesses. The advisory committee’s role was to make a recommendation to the governor on whether a rule should move forward, leaving the final decision to the governor.
The governor’s EO, says the Chamber, also will eliminate the new permit appeal process that ensured permit approvals and denials were based on sound science, that the state government would have to publicly explain their decisions, and that it would all be done in a transparent way.
“We are also disappointed the Whitmer administration did not make any effort to implement the new law before throwing in the towel on this important regulatory reform,” says Studley.
Jason Geer, director of energy and environmental policy for the Michigan Chamber, adds, “If implemented, this law would have created a more-cooperative rulemaking and permit process.
Eliminating seats at the table for a wide range of stakeholders and closing the curtain on the state’s environmental rulemaking process sends a negative message to Michigan’s business community.”