Senate approves DEQ regulatory reform

LANSING – Legislation was approved by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday to reform the regulatory process within the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) dealing with underground storage tanks, said Sen. John Proos.

“These initiatives are about promoting both job creation and environmental protection,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I co-sponsored these reforms because they will eliminate unnecessary red tape and expedite the cleanup of these polluted sites. Cleaning these areas will protect Southwest Michigan’s natural resources and enable the properties to be redeveloped, which could help create jobs and breathe life into struggling communities.”

Senate Bills 528-533 would create a more objective dispute-resolution process and clarify that the DEQ cannot develop regulations for cleanups that are not specified under law.

“This is needed because over the last decade few of these sites have been revitalized and the department has continually changed the standards,” Proos said. “The practice of constantly shifting the goalposts must end. It has caused tremendous uncertainty and costly setbacks.”

The main bill, SB 528, would fully adopt a risk-based corrective action process as published in American Society for Testing and Materials standards and include timelines for DEQ review or response so that owners and operators have predictability and finality.

“Cleaning up these contaminated sites is important, but the first order of business is to ensure that department decisions are based on risk and are not actually making the problem worse by standing in the way of protecting our natural resources,” said Proos.

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