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Whitmer signs bills axing controversial environmental rules review committee

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Whitmer signs bills axing controversial environmental rules review committee

Feb 27, 2024 | 3:00 pm ET
By Kyle Davidson
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Whitmer signs bills axing controversial environmental rules review committee
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Jared Strong/States Newsroom

On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills abolishing the Environmental Rules Review Committee (ERRC), which members of the Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy have argued serves as a barrier to efficient government operations. 

The Environmental Rules Review Committee was established under Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder to allow stakeholder input on the state’s environmental rulemaking process. However, while testifying in committee EGLE officials noted the department works to engage with specialized stakeholders who have experience with regulations as a rule package is created, meaning ERRC members rarely generate new feedback that wouldn’t otherwise arise during the rulemaking process. 

“If these bills pass and the ERRC is eliminated, there’s actually not a lot that changes in how our processes work,” EGLE Deputy Director Travis Boeskool said in committee. “We’re still working with stakeholders before and during the rule-drafting process. It’s still governed under the Administrative Procedures Act with requirements for public information, hearings, taking public comment, and then at the end of the process [the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules] is still there for that final chance if stakeholders have concerns.”

Opponents have also criticized the committee for allowing business interests a say in environmental regulations, with six of the 11 seats on the board designated for industries regulated by EGLE. 

The ERRC previously came under fire in 2019 for voting to halt stricter PFAS standards for drinking water.

“I’ve always been an advocate for protecting our environment. By removing the Environmental Rules Review Committee — a committee mostly made up of corporate polluters — from statute, we are able to ensure that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy can fulfill its mission of protecting our air, water, land and people,” said state Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy), who sponsored one of the bills in the package. 

House Bills 48244826 will take effect next year, 91 days after sine die, when the Legislature adjourns for the year.