Saturday, May 7, 2011

Senate limits state environmental protections
State could not be stricter than feds

The Michigan Senate has passed a bill that would block state agencies from making environmental rules that are stricter than federal requirements, prompting concerns from environmental advocacy groups.

According to an analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency:

Senate Bill 272 would do the following:

– Prohibit an agency from promulgating a rule more stringent than the applicable Federal standard unless specifically authorized by statute.
– Require an agency to adopt Federal rules and standards if it adopted rules to implement a federally delegated program.
– Specify that a guideline, operational memorandum, bulletin, interpretative statement, or form with instructions would be advisory only and could not be given the force and effect of law.
– Prohibit a rule from exceeding the rule-making delegation in its authorizing statute.
– Require an agency to consider exempting small business from a rule under certain
circumstances and expand the methods by which an agency must reduce the economic impact of a rule on small business.
– Revise a provision pertaining to a challenge to the validity or applicability of a rule.
– Allow a court to award up to 10 times the cost of any permit fees plus actual and reasonable costs for witness and attorney fees if the court determined a rule-processing violation had occurred.

The new law could benefit Dow Chemical, which is responsible for dioxin contamination in the city of Midland, the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and Saginaw Bay.


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