Today, the Senate voted along party lines to reject Executive Order-02, which would have allowed Governor Gretchen Whitmer to reorganize the Department of Environmental Quality into the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy – while streamlining processes and ensuring an independent environmental oversight body.
Following the vote from the House to reject the EO, the legislature has now officially rejected the Executive Order and it will not move forward.
This is the first rejection of an Executive Order in over 40 years. And at a moment when we’re more divided than ever, a moment in which voters overwhelming cry out for an end to the gridlock and hyperpartisanship, I was deeply disheartened by the outcome of the vote.
I voted “no” and encouraged my colleagues to do the same because we have a trust issue in Michigan. Residents distrust state government. Constituents rightly call out that government is too bloated, too corrupt, and too focused on its own interests instead of fighting for people.
Critiques of the DEQ in the past have marked the department as inconsistent, unresponsive, and ineffective. We’ve seen it in the permiting process. We saw it in the Flint water crisis and the growing PFAS crisis. And in speaking with new DEQ Director Liesl Eichler Clark this week, she is keenly aware of those shortcomings and was ready for this new, streamlined department to be more effective, more nimble, and more responsive to the people we serve.
Doing so would have been a key step in rebuilding that trust from our residents and communities, and would serve to build upon efforts from the previous administration, introducing new efficiencies, eliminating a number of panels that would have allowed regulated industries to have veto power over our environmental oversight, and instead introducing public oversight, giving a stronger voice to residents: establishing the Office of Clean Water Public Advocate, an Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and lastly – the Office of Climate and Energy.
I’m committed to working with you to rebuild trust in those who you elect to represent you. I’m committed to fighting for a change in mindset and processes that will respect the forces of climate change and inextricably connect our environment and our economy. But we have to earn that trust. And today, partisanship unfortunately won out
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