SB 653 creates appeals process enabling industry to overturn DEQ decisions


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SB 653, introduced by Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart), establishes a permit appeals panel with the authority to unilaterally overturn, amend, or approve any permitting decisions made by DEQ.
● Creates a permit appeals panel within the DEQ and smaller committees of the panel
known as appeals boards.
● The appeals panel is made up of 15 members appointed by the Governor. All members
must either: hold a current professional license in engineering, geology, hydrology, or
hydrogeology and have 6 years of professional experience in that field, or have a
master’s degree in engineering or a science related to air and water and 8 years of
professional experience.
● A permit applicant who is aggrieved by a decision by the DEQ regarding the approval ordenial of a permit can appeal that decision to an appeals board by submitting a petition to the director of the DEQ–appeals are only available for permit applicant and do not include other affected groups, community members, etc.
● The Director can try to resolve the dispute without convening an appeals board meeting.
● If the Director is unable to resolve the dispute, then he/she must convene a meeting of
an appeals board.
● An appeals board is made up of 5 members of the appeals panel selected by the
Director for their relevant expertise in the permit subject area.
● The panel holds a hearing on the permit petition and makes a decision regarding the
● Whether the DEQ Director approves of the decision or not, the appeals board has final
decision making authority on all permits brought before it.
● The Director then must issue a final decision that incorporates the appeal board decision into the terms of the permit; if the director fails to do so, it becomes final in 60 days anyway.

SB 654 – Introduced by Senator David Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) delegates authority to the Governor to create an environmental science advisory board (no binding decisionmaking), although the Governor already has the authority to create such a board if he/she desires. While this is not objectionable in and of itself,
because this piece of legislation is tie-barred to SB 652 & 653, the Michigan League of COnservation Voters opposes it. The bill would:.

● Creates an environmental science advisory board within the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget
● The advisory board is made up of 9 members appointed by the Governor who have
expertise in one or more of the following areas: engineering, environmental science,
economics, chemistry, geology, physics, biology, human medicine, statistics, and risk
● The board can advise the Governor on issues affecting the protection of the environment
or the management of the natural resources of the state. The advice the board can
provide is limited to the specific advice requested by the Governor.
● The board cannot review or advise on any application, recommendation, or decision
regarding a permit, license, or environmental impact statement.