How Green is Your Governor? Archives

 

 

 This page will be updated regularly with previous posts to the "How Green Is Your Governor?" tool.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012 

photo how green governor snyderGovernor Snyder signs House Bill 4754, a bill that allows the state to sell a portion of a former railroad in Petoskey for conversion into a recreational trail. The state acquired several miles of tracks in the 1970s when some railroad lines went bankrupt. Transferring this unused railroad track into recreational trails encourages tourism and opens up opportunities to experience Pure Michigan. Read More...

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) releases its recommendations regarding changes to environmental regulations in Michigan. Although some of the recommendations are justified, the ORR recommends cutting back numerous DEQ regulations that are currently in place to protect the Great Lakes, our uniqu environment, and public health. Additionally, Michigan Environmental Council, (MEC) the lone environmental voice at the panel meeting, actively objects to 1/3 of the recommendations and claims that another 1/3 will have no impact on the environment and are not priorities; MEC only supports 1/3 of the recommendations. Read More… 

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

photo how green governor snyder Governor Snyder appoints Rex Schlaybaugh Jr. and AnnoesjkaSteinman to the Natural Resources Commission, an advisory council to the DNR that works to conserve, protect, and manage Michigan’s natural resources. The Commission holds monthly public meetings to encourage citizen involvement in its decision making process. Schlaybaugh, the former CEO of the Dykema law firm, is an avid angler with connections to multiple conservation organizations. Steinman is highly experienced in land and water management and conservation, and has also been involved with various conservation projects and organizations. Read More…  

 

 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

 Lt. Governor Calley signs House Bill 4298 into law. This bill requires the Department of Natural Resources to grant land to private citizens for building roads on state-owned property if certain conditions are met. Adding this mandatory land-use provision promotes the unnecessary expansion of road construction in pristine areas and state forests. Read More…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

photo how green governor snyderGovernor Snyder signs into law Senate Bills 508-510, a package of bills that creates the Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council. The council will make recommendations to the DEQ on best management practices to stop the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes. The Council will aid the DEQ in preventing the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes, as well as managing over 150 species that have already invaded aquatic ecosystems in Michigan’s waters. Read more...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Governor Snyder signs House Bill 5190 into law, a bill that eliminates the Low Income and Energy Efficiency Fund (LIEEF). Although other bills signed at the same time maintain the funding for heating in low-income households for this coming winter, the removal of the funding for weatherization and energy efficiency programs leaves families vulnerable to the same high heating bills in coming years. HB 5190 removes energy efficiency as a priority in ratepayer protection, a short-sighted and short-term fix to a much larger problem that LIEEF in its original form worked to address. Read more...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gov. Snyder signed a package of bills into law which obstruct the ability of the DEQ to protect Michigan’s natural resources. SB 274 creates a joint committee to review proposed administrative rules, such as environmental regulations, which can object to the rules for reasons including burden to a licensee. SB 275 prohibits the DEQ from requesting additional information from permit applicants after a permit is considered administratively complete. Read more...

 Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gov. Snyder signed SB 271 and 272 into law as part of a regulatory reform package. As originally worded, SB 272 included the same "No Stricter Than Federal" language contained in HB 4326, which Gov. Snyder vetoed. The version that he signed into law, though, had removed that language. As passed, SB 271 and 272 require a small business impact statement evaluation for proposed new regulations and that the department consider exempting small businesses from new regulations. Read more...

 Thursday, December 1, 2011

photo how green governor snyderIssuing his first veto since taking office, Governor Snyder halts the passage of House Bill 4326. This bill would have prevented the Governor and the agencies he directs from establishing protections for the Great Lakes that are stricter than those at the federal level. By vetoing HB 4326, Governor Snyder takes a major step in reaffirming his dedication to protecting Michigan’s environment that was a focus of his 2010 campaign. The veto also preserves the right of future governors to enforce crucial regulations to preserve the Great Lakes, just as Governor Milliken did in the past to save Lake Erie from toxic algae blooms in 1976. Read more (and send the Governor a thank you!)...

 Thursday, November 10, 2011

photo how green governor snyder redGovernor Snyder signs House Bill 4875, which removes the requirement of a secondary liner on experimental landfill projects. Especially with these experimental projects, the secondary liners are common sense and important protections to ensure that waste products do not leak out and contaminate both the soil and the nearby streams, rivers, and groundwater. Furthermore, toxins from landfill waste can also damage nearby ecosystems and harm local wildlife. Read More…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

photo how green governor snyderGovernor Snyder reveals his plan to revitalize Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. In his special message, Snyder offers well-defined requests of the legislature and is seeking action in this legislative session on his proposals. Most of the proposals that the Governor outlines will not only upgrade Michigan’s transit systems, but are also beneficial for land use, smart growth, public health, and reducing carbon emissions in Michigan. Read More…

 Friday, September 30, 2011

photo how green governor snyder The funding to support high speed rail improvements - trains running up to 110mph - is signed into law. This was a top priority for the environmental community and is an important step toward cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient transit for Michigan. (Technically, this bill was signed by Lieutenant Governor Calley, as Governor Snyder is out of the country on a trade mission. However, we still count it as an administrative action and therefore relevant to "How Green is Your Governor?") Read More...

 Monday, September 26, 2011

photo how green governor snyder red The DEQ issues a permit to the Romulus deep-injection well, clearing the way for it to begin accepting hazardous materials. This well has a very long track record of spills, poor management, and shady dealings with various owners. It is heavily opposed by the local community with good reason; the trucks carrying tons of toxic waste past the airport and into commercial and residential neighborhoods is too much of a risk. Read More...
Friday, September 23, 2011

photo how green governor snyder Governor Snyder forms a blue ribbon committee on state parks and outdoor recreation. While it is a positive gesture, as a blue ribbon committee it has limited power to modernize the both the support and maintenance of our heavily underfunded state park system. The actual follow-through on this panel's findings will be what matters most.Read More…

 Wednesday, September 21, 2011

photo how green governor snyder Governor Snyder signs into law Senate Bill 449, which increases the solid waste surcharge fee (a separate fee in addition to the usual payments and taxes) on landfills within Michigan from $0.07 to $0.12 per cubic yard. While $0.12 per cubic yard is still a low surcharge in comparison to other states, increasing the fee will bring $1.9 million in additional revenue to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The additional revenue will allow the DEQ to continue solid waste management planning programs at their current operational level. Read More…

 Wednesday, September 21, 2011

photo how green governor snyder red Governor Snyder signs into law Senate Bill 450, which diverts money from DEQ programs designed to reduce our use of hazardous chemicals and, instead, uses those funds to staff the Air Quality Division’s Permit-to-Install Program. The reallocation of funding will reduce the DEQ's ability to effectively manage and regulate hazardous chemicals that pose a threat to public health. Another pro-business move by Snyder at the expense of Michigan’s natural environment. Read More…

Friday, September 2, 2011
photo how green governor snyder red Governor Snyder issues a statement explicitly supporting President Obama’s decision directing the U.S. EPA to suspend implementation of a proposed new rule for ozone standards, a decision that will jeopardize public health and the air quality of millions of Americans. The proposal would have updated the federal ozone standard, which would have prevented 12,000 premature deaths, 5,300 heart attacks, and thousands of cases of asthma each year. The ozone standard currently being implemented was set fourteen years ago, and it is outdated and inadequate for protecting public health. Read More...

 Friday, August 19, 2011
photo how green governor snyder yellow Governor Snyder appoints Valerie Brader to lead the energy efforts of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). While her resume includes a list of environmental positions including a stint with the Idaho DEQ, Brader is not well known among Michigan environmental groups. At this point, it is too soon to tell whether this was a good or bad move by Snyder. Read More…

 Friday, August 5, 2011

Governor Snyder appoints Grant Trigger to the Great Lakes Compact Council and Regional Body, a council that helps coordinate Great Lakes states and provinces. Trigger, Cleanup Manager for the Revitalizing Auto Companies Environmental Response Trust, has an extensive background in the environmental field, but appointing someone with a deeper background in Great Lakes protection and the Great Lakes Compact would have been possible and preferable. Read More...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

 The Department of Environmental Quality gives Consumers Energy an 18-month extension on a permit for a proposed new coal plant in Bay City. While the permit extension doesn’t guarantee the plant’s construction, it allows Consumers Energy to keep this option open for an extra year and a half. An initial permit was issued in May 2010, but Consumers deferred plans for building the coal plant due to a reduced demand for electricity and increased electric capacity from alternative energy sources, illustrating a lack of necessity for another coal plant in Michigan. Read More…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Governor Snyder signs House Bill 4746.  The bill changes zoning regulations for mining operations and it weakens the state’s ability to protect our valuable natural resources.  Because of the bill, a zoning ordinance cannot prevent the extraction of natural resources from any property unless "very serious consequences" would result from the extraction.  This diverges from the current procedure, which says mining operations are subject to the same rational-basis standard that applies to all other types of land use restrictions.  Read More… 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Governor Snyder signs Senate Bill 46, a bill that allows ethanol production on land currently zoned for agriculture. The upside: ethanol production can be beneficial because it moves us away from fossil fuels.  The downside: ethanol production is not without its own harmful environmental impact, and SB 46 does not appear strong enough to counteract this impact.  Read More...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Governor Snyder signs Senate Bill 422 which allows the DEQ to generate approximately $7.3 million more from fee collection for certain water quality protections. That revenue is then used to more quickly review and approve permits, perform site monitoring, and support inspections to ensure continued water quality in Michigan. More specifically, the bill delays the sunsets on programs so that the DEQ can continue to collect these fees from entities operating under these programs; it is not a new tax or fee, it is merely a continuation of an existing program. Read More...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Governor Snyder signs House Bill 4666 into law, which will help the state collect $5 million that will go to support the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund, a fund that assists local governments in implementing programs to preserve farmland and open space. The funds will be collected from landowners that have neglected to pay off liens on farmland. Furthermore, this legislation also creates an incentive for farmers to make the payments in a more timely manner. Read More...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Department of Environmental Quality announced today that it approved a permit to install a coal-fired power plant in Rogers City. The decision comes after a 2009 Michigan Public Service Commission report that detailed the declining electric service demand in Michigan and the decisive lack of necessity for new baseload power generating plants. The approval of the coal-fired plant will raise consumers' energy rates, contribute to increases in asthma and other health problems, and contribute to dangerous emissions of greenhouse gases. Read More...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Governor Snyder signs a bill that will expand volunteer opportunities in Michigan’s state lands and wildlife conservation areas. Under previous law, volunteers were limited to assisting just with park operations, but this new legislation opens up volunteering to include more hands-on options, such as restoring wildlife habitats and wetland preservation. Not only will the new volunteer opportunities will help the Department of Natural Resources maintain Michigan’s natural areas, but they will also offer exciting recreation activities for Michigan citizens. Read More...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Governor Snyder signs the budget recently passed through the State House and Senate that includes deep cuts to the Department of Environmental Quality by 15.1% and to the Department of Natural Resources by 13.5%. The cuts will leave the DEQ and the DNR – the departments most responsible for protecting our Great Lakes, forests, and clean air – heavily understaffed and underfunded. This continues a decade-long trend that outpaces that of other agencies and accounts for a nearly 75% reduction over the past ten years. Although the budget includes some positive components, such as full funding of passenger rail, the budget cuts to these two departments, in particular, still greatly outweighs the benefits. Read More...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bill Hughes and Bill Stough have been appointed by Governor Snyder to the Small Business Clean Air Compliance Advisory Panel. The goal of the panel is to help small businesses thrive through improved environmental performance. Both Hughes and Stough are well qualified for their positions on this panel; Hughes has served on the Kalamazoo City Environmental Concerns Committee, and Stough has worked with several environmental groups, including Sustainable Research Group, BLDI Environmental Management, and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Read More...

Monday, May 9, 2011

 Governor Snyder joins U.S Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, in announcing that Michigan will receive nearly $200 million in federal funding for high-speed rail upgrades. Snyder’s administration, through the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), applied for the stimulus money to improve Michigan’s rail system despite frequent opposition from fellow Republicans. In his press release, he explained the importance of this decision for Michigan, stating that high-speed rail will enhance our state’s economy, environment, and improve the quality of life for our citizens. Read more...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Snyder appoints Rich Baird, CEO of MI Partners, to the Great Lakes Protection Fund Board of Directors. Baird replaces Kenneth DeBeaussaert, former state senator and former director of the Office of the Great Lakes. DeBeaussaert had a longstanding commitment to and experience in Great Lakes protection, whereas there is a notable lack of public statements from Baird on these issues. Read more...

Friday, April 8,2011

 Joe Schwarz, former Republican Congressman from the 7th Congressional District and known for his deep understanding of conservation issues, is appointed by Governor Snyder to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC). The MIPRC notes the environmental benefits of passenger rail within its stated mission and, with Schwartz's pragmatic voice on the Commission, Michigan stands to benefit from a solid vision for regional mass transit. Read more...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rick Snyder is showing support for Michigan’s parks and recreation, as he signs Senate Bill 140, approving over $100 million in grants for recreation projects and land acquisitions. The Governor has chosen to make nature a priority, despite pressure to redirect funding away from the Natural Resources Fund. This signing goes in line with Snyder’s plan of improving the quality of life for Michigan citizens, by striving to create an environment where individuals and families can enjoy nature and the outdoors. Read more…

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011

Snyder appoints Patty Birkholz to both the Council of Great Lakes Governors and the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee. Birkholz, who already holds the position of director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, is focused at the moment on the threat of Asian Carp invading Michigan’s waters. Read more...

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011

 Governor Snyder supports tourism in Michigan, with his signing of legislation that increases funding for the Pure Michigan campaign. This ensures that the State of Michigan can continue to benefit economically from tourism, recreation, fishing, and other attractions. This law provides for an additional $10 million in funding for this fiscal year, on top of the $15 million already promised. Read more...

Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2011

Governor Snyder signs his first two bills as Governor, thus codifying into law the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and fulfilling a promise from his State of the State address. Signing this bill earns a neutral mark due to the mixed results expected from the enaction of the legislation. On one hand, thousands of farms will now participate in a program designed to lower their impact on the environment. On the other hand, voluntary regulation is always weaker than permiting and the law is more lax than it should be in defining violations within the MAEAP program. The ultimate effect of this program will rest in its implementation and oversight. Read more...

Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011

While meeting with a building trades group, Governor Snyder lends his support to new coal-fired and mining in the Upper Peninsula. In trying to frame these tired technologies as job creators, he ignores the longer-term picture of renewable energy jobs that coal displaces and the chilling effect on tourism - not to mention the environmental devastation - that accompanies the proposed sulfide mining in the UP. Read more...

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011

Snyder appoints Steven Hilfinger as the new director of Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. The announcement of this appointment was accompanied with notice of a future executive order that will restructure the department. Until this future reorganization is better outlined, it is impossible to determine Mr. Hilfinger's impact on Michigan's energy policy.

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) approves an installation permit for a new coal-fired generator at the James DeYoung power plant in Holland. Although previously denied for a lack of demonstrated need, the Ottawa County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the permit in December, stating that lack of demonstrated need is insufficient grounds for a permit denial. This action does not force the plant's construction, but rather clears the way for it to move forward. It also sets the dangerous precedent of allowing construction for construction's sake without regard to long-term planning and the increased rates that citizens will face as a direct result. Read more...

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

Governor Snyder delivers his first State of the State address focusing on measurable progress for Michigan. His support of $25 million for the continuation of the Pure Michigan campaign and preserving $100 million recommended for conservation purposes through the Natural Resources Trust Fund is good. On the other hand, his reliance on the "voluntary enforcement" of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) does not afford sufficient enforcement of essential land and water quality safeguards. Read more...

Friday, Jan. 14, 2011

New Attorney General Schuette will continue Michigan's fight against Asian carp. He's met with environmental and sportsmen group leaders to form a united front to block the invasive fish. Read more...

Monday, Jan. 10, 2011

Governor Snyder names Judge Brian Zahra of the First District Court of Appeals to the Michigan Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by Justice Corrigan. Zahra was the lone dissenter in a 2008 ruling that required industrial farms to report the contents and location of the ongoing disposal of toxic animal waste products. His position, which would hide this important information from effected Michigan citizens, is a discouraging precedent for his upcoming tenure on the state's highest court. Read more...

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011

Unexpectedly, the Snyder Administration appeals the lower court ruling which would have helped clear the way for the unnecessary construction of the Holland coal plant. Read more...

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

The Snyder Administration officially splits the DNRE into the old Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources. Dan Wyant and Rodney Stokes to head them up, respectively. Read more...

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011

Gov. Snyder appoints Patty Birkholz as New Director of Michigan Office of Great Lakes. Read more....

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011

Gov. Snyder takes the Oath of Office and becomes the 48th Governor of Michigan. He includes a brief mention of our natural resources as one of our greatest assets, but does not lay out any concrete solutions. Inclusion of "urban core" Mayors Heartwell and Bing speaks to commitment to rejuvenating our cities. Read more...