Senate passes DEQ environmental leader regulatory reforms

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LANSING, Mich.—A Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulatory reform package establishing the Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) program in state law passed the state Senate on Tuesday, said Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Senate Bills 939-942 allow the DEQ to designate corporations and businesses as “Environmental Leaders” if they meet certain criteria and participate in the voluntary C3 program. C3 is intended to encourage job providers to go above and beyond current state environmental requirements mandated by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

“This program is a cooperative venture between state government and Michigan businesses,” said Green, sponsor of SB 942. “It signifies a real change in the culture of state government.  Instead of just enforcing more expensive and burdensome regulations, the DEQ will actually serve as an asset to corporate entities who desire to be good environmental stewards.”

Through the voluntary program, DEQ would bestow the leader designation upon enterprises that implement an environmental management system, adopt an environmental policy or pollution prevention plan, maintain a minimum three year history free of actions that have endangered public health, safety, or welfare, and submit annual reports on environmental compliance activities.

Companies who receive the designation will be subject to less frequent inspections and receive advance notification of inspections. Their employees will also receive free environmental training from the DEQ.  Additionally, environmental leaders will be eligible for increased length of permits, preference for bidding on state contracts, and protection against civil fines. The bills also provide for termination of the designation if the facility fails to maintain the standards.

SB 942 focuses specifically on the program as it applies to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Working with private enterprises to ensure Michigan residents can enjoy clean air, safe drinking water and an overall great quality of life is a paramount responsibility of state government,” “The bills in this package will help fulfill that responsibility, while reducing the regulatory burden on job creators, cutting the cost to taxpayers of operating the various permit programs, and freeing up DEQ resources to target bad environmental actors.”

The bills now advance to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.