By Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
This article continues our focus on EGLE permits that riparians might find of interest. We will occasionally provide info about permits issued, or denied. We are also providing updates about contested permits challenged by various groups in the contested permit process through the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR).
CAFO – MOAHR Docket # 20-009773:
This appeal involves the new CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) permit requirements issued by EGLE on April 1, 2020. For analysis and background, please refer to Parts 1- 3 of this series in the news section of our website: mymlsa.org/news/. Here are the links to previous articles: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
The Petitioners, Respondent (EGLE) and Interveners have submitted Post-Hearing briefs. The contested permit case process is complete and awaiting a decision by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which is on hold, pending the outcome of the related Court of Appeals ruling.
In an interesting twist in the case, the Petitioners have included a challenge on the grounds that EGLE had to first make a new “Rule” before the 2020 CAFO “permit conditions” could be issued. During the long time period surrounding this pending contested permit, that “new rule” matter was also filed and litigated in the
Michigan courts. In September 2022, The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the case brought by the Michigan Farm Bureau (one of the petitioners), which argued changing the permits requires going through procedures to establish new rules. On December 29, 2022, EGLE and Interveners filed with the Michigan Supreme Court for Application for Leave to appeal the COA decision.
Subsequently, on May 31, 2023, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the dispute. We will continue to provide updates, in this complicated and important matter, as they occur.
NEW BOATING ACCESS SITE (BAS) – MOAHR Docket # 16-015208:
This case involves an application by the Michigan DNR to fill just under a half acre of Eagle Lake and construct a totally new BAS without any DNR provided disinfection/decontamination station for the control of aquatic invasive species (AIS). The matter was contested in the MOAHR forum for contested permits. And had been pending the final agency decision since October 21, 2021 when the full hearing process was concluded. (For analysis and background, please refer to previous articles about this permit).
After a long wait, on May 22, 2023, Aaron B Keatley, Acting Director, EGLE, issued the agencies’ Final Decision and Order affirming the “… Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Laws in the Proposal For Decision dated September 16, 2021.” The EGLE Director relied heavily on the ALJ conclusion that “…the proposed BAS will not adversely impact the public trust…” The EGLE Director further rejected issues raised by petitioners by stating, “…Petitioner….may prefer that the ALJ assigned greater weight and credibility to some evidence than he did to other evidence or that the ALJ reached different conclusions, but (petitioners) preferences do not amount to error by the ALJ….” The Eagle Lake Improvement Association is in the process of appealing the matter to the appropriate state court.