Michigan's GOP House moves to void Dem governor's decision on environmental panels

Michigan's GOP House moves to void Dem governor's decision on environmental panels

The Republican-controlled Michigan state House voted to reject newly-elected Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s sweeping environmental executive action.

Whitmer earlier in the week used an executive order to abolish industry-backed panels put in place by her Republican predecessor to review environmental regulations, according to the Detroit Free Press. Environmentalists had praised the move, while business groups such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Farm Bureau urged lawmakers to reject it.

Those panels, dubbed “polluter panels” by environmental activists, are comprised of both government-appointed members and business representatives and have the power to review proposed environmental regulations and permits.

In moving to abolish them, Whitmer said that the committees “created more bureaucracy.”

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“Their goal I think is not a bad goal ... to ensure that everyone has the ability to have input,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “But we think that this makes a lot more sense, to have people who truly are accountable to the public making the decision.”

She also suggested that the panels established may be in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Lawmakers told the Detroit Free Press that they did not object to other parts of Whitmer’s order that restructured the state’s top environmental agency, and said they would accept the order if Whitmer removed the part abolishing the panels.

The governor criticized the House’s vote, saying: "For the House Republicans to vote against clean drinking water ... I think is terribly short-sighted and and dangerous,” according to the Free Press.

Critics of the panels, including environmentalists and some government officials, argued that the commissions undermined the governor and gave too much power to business interests.

Supporters said that the review panels ensured that everyone has a “seat at the table” and improved transparency on important environmental laws.

The Michigan state Senate is expected to vote on the resolution as soon as Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. If the Republican-controlled body also rejects the order, it will kill the governor's order.