by Mitch Barrows
Freshwater Future Policy Associate
The Michigan state House voted in May 57 to 50 in favor of a bill (HB‐4205) designed to restrict the ability of state agencies to create regulatory rules that are stronger than federal standards. If passed by the state Senate and signed by Governor Snyder, this bill may end up as the most consequential Michigan environmental law in decades, impacting efforts to prevent invasive species, keep our drinking water clean, and more.
Under the potential law, the directors of executive agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality would face an additional burden of proving “a clear and convincing need” to exceed the federal standard. Agencies would be required to prepare and present “impact statement[s],” which are notably required to emphasize the “cost of compliance” for businesses rather than potential public benefits and positive impacts.
With Scott Pruitt as EPA Director, federal environmental regulations will undoubtedly erode. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times over the agency’s Clean Power Plan, Clean Water Rule, and established limits on mercury, methane, and ozone pollution. Pruitt’s EPA has already reversed 23 environmental regulations in its first 100 days, and President Trump has further committed to rolling back two administrative rules for every new rule enacted.
Representative Triston Cole (R‐Mancelona) of the 105th House district (Charlevoix, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, and Oscoda counties) introduced the bill, claiming that the legislation would serve as a ‘check’ on the regulatory system. But if passed, this bill would surrender the security of Michigan’s natural resources to a federal administration working against efforts to safeguard land and water resources that are essential to our economy and way of life.
Federal regulations are baseline protections developed for watersheds and habitats ranging from the Alaskan arctic to the Arizona desert; they are not meant to be comprehensive. The Great Lakes holds twenty percent of the world’s fresh water, and harbors thousands of specialized watersheds. Stewardship of Michigan’s unique and priceless natural resources requires stable, attentive, and proactive management. House bill 4205 is antithetical to Michigan values and our nation’s decentralized system of government, and would hamstring those in power charged with resource conservation.
Visit http://act.freshwaterfuture.org/page/speakout/no‐greater‐than‐the‐feds to find your state Senator and tell them to vote NO on “No Greater Than the Feds.”