Proos introduces ‘Environmental Leaders’ program bill

LANSING — Sen. John Proos recently introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate to reduce regulations and provide incentives for businesses that volunteer to become certified “environmental leaders” through qualifying environmental management programs.

Proos’ measure is part of a four-bill package that would create the Environmental Leaders Program within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The legislation is aimed at reducing cumbersome regulations on job providers that choose to go above and beyond current state environmental requirements.

“From agriculture to tourism, our unique and bountiful Southwest Michigan environment provides us with so many opportunities,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I sponsored this initiative to incentivize Michigan businesses to become more environmentally responsible and help the state more efficiently use its limited resources.”

Under Senate Bills 939-942, becoming an environmental leader would be voluntary and would require significant time and investment, including operating in accordance with an approved environmental management standard and creating a pollution prevention program. It would benefit local businesses and farms and incentivize them to participate in environmental management programs, such as the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).

“I believe that the MAEAP is a proactive environmental program for the agricultural community and the citizens of our state,” said Tom Bodtke, a Van Buren County blueberry farmer. “It is important that we all keep up with environmental issues that affect our farm families and our communities.” 

Under the “environmental leaders” program, farmers like Bodke would earn extended length of permits, less frequent inspections, preference for state contract bidding and protection against civil fines.

“It is a positive step for everyone when we can reduce job-killing red tape and make government more efficient,” said Proos. “I am committed to this initiative, which will encourage environmental protection and thank those businesses that are already going beyond the call of duty, because our Southwest Michigan economy depends on our natural resources.”

SBs 939-942 were referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for consideration.