Senate approves Booher DEQ reform

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LANSING – The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher to reform the regulatory process within the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) dealing with leaking underground storage tanks.

“This reform package is about promoting job creation and economic development while protecting Michigan’s natural resources at the same time,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Michigan regularly ranks last in the nation in cleaning up contaminated lands. This is bad for our environment, economy and local property values. Expediting the cleanup of these sites will protect our natural resources and prepare the properties for redevelopment that could revitalize our communities and create jobs.”

Senate Bills 528-533 would create an independent dispute-resolution process and clarify that the DEQ cannot develop regulations for cleanups that are not specified under law. The measures also would adopt a risk-based corrective action process and include timelines for DEQ review or response so that owners and operators would have predictability and finality.

Booher’s bill, SB 529, would allow owners and operators to resolve disputes between themselves and DEQ through the response activity review panel, or let them resolve disputes through the office of administrative hearings within the department.

“I sponsored this reform to ensure that people have a quick and fair process to resolve disagreements on how best to clean up the site,” Booher said. “This is needed because the department has continually changed the standards, which has resulted in uncertainty, setbacks and even land owners deciding not to redevelop a site. Cleaning up contamination is most important and these reforms will ensure unnecessary bureaucratic rules aren’t making it worse.

“These reforms are a part of continued efforts by Senate Republicans to make government more efficient and effective by streamlining the regulatory process.”

SBs 528-533 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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