LANSING — Today, the House of Representatives voted out Senate Bills 652-654, which create new panels and gives them new powers to oversee the DEQ and its permitting and rule-making process. In response, state rep. Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), who voted against the bills, issued the following statement:

“These bills give far too much power to members of unelected DEQ rule-making and permit panels. These panels allow non-Michiganders and employees of corporations, that could have a vested interest in exploiting our natural resources, to be appointed members. When we are talking about ensuring that our lakes, rivers, and natural resources are protected, we need to be perfect and make these natural resources our first concern. If we aren’t perfect, we will be paying the price for weak environmental rules and wrongly approved permits. This legislation makes a mockery of protecting our lands and waterways. The rulemaking board will have the power to issue rules and the permit panel will still be able to override a decision in a contested case hearing, and that is just wrong. Giving a panel this much power is letting the fox guard the henhouse, and I cannot vote for any bill that is this irresponsible.”