NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 21, 2005

Just like high taxes, Michigan's heavy-handed environmental regulation is needlessly hampering businesses and restraining job growth in the state, says Russ Harding of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Although Michigan has improved its permitting processes, its reforms have not kept pace with those of competing states, particularly concerning wetlands and air permits. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature should ameliorate the regulatory climate through the following actions, none of which would harm the environment, says Harding:

  • Prohibit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from issuing regulations more stringent than federal requirements without explicit approval from the Legislature and the governor.
  • Require the DEQ to act on air permits within six months.
  • Repeal aggressive, but out-dated air regulations, such as the Air Toxics program, and instead rely on federal standards.
  • Return the wetlands program to the federal government to put Michigan on equal footing with other states.
  • Reject the proposed Water Legacy Act, which would require permits to use groundwater and thus unnecessarily ration supply.

Gov. Granholm must play an additional role. No matter what laws are passed, she must ensure the DEQ operates in a fair, timely and consistent manner that aids, rather than obstructs, businesses in meeting environmental requirements. A "bottom up" culture, in which DEQ personnel impose arbitrary rules, is a blueprint for disaster, says Harding.

Source: Russ J. Harding, "Improve Michigan's Regulatory Environment," Mackinac Center for Public Policy, January 10, 2005.


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