LANSING —State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) testified in the House Natural Resources Committee today on a package of Senate bills to streamline the permitting process for U.P. mines. Her amendment to Senate Bill 839, addressing the Department of Environmental Quality’s response to permit requests and approval of modifications to underground workings of a mine, was adopted.

“There is so much that goes on in the legislative process that people often do not get to see — only the end result,” said Cambensy. “There was a great deal of collaboration and compromise behind the scenes with these bills and my amendment, and I’m grateful that it was approved to help ultimately improve these bills for all vested parties.”

Cambensy’s amendment to Senate Bill 839 requires the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to respond to a permit request from a mining company within 30 days. The amendment allows the DEQ to approve, without requiring amendment to the original permit, modifications to the underground workings of a mine if the company can show that these will not cause adverse environmental impacts, and that the modifications meet additional specific criteria outlined in the bill.

“Any time that you’re opening up and changing a law that had general consensus among those same groups, it can cause concern over the intent and outcome,” said Cambensy. “That’s why I feel it’s so critical to bring all the interested parties together to address those concerns. I’d like to thank everyone for their valuable and diligent contributions, and for coming to the table to help find a solution.”

Senate Bills 839, 840 and 881 aim to streamline the permitting and approval of physical changes to a mine process for mining companies operating in the U.P. where there is duplicative or unnecessary requirements. Language in the bills require that any potential adverse environmental impacts trigger the original lengthy permitting and approval of physical changes process already required under law.