January 15th, 2019
Governor Whitmer announced her appointments for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). To head the DEQ Governor Whitmer appointed Liesl Eichler Clark, co-founder and former partner of 5 Lakes Energy, a clean energy policy firm. Clark also previously served as the President of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, and comes to the appointment with a strong clean energy background. To lead the MDNR Governor Whitmer tapped former Michigan United Conservation Clubs Executive Director Daniel Eichinger, who also served as former Lieutenant Governor John Cherry’s policy advisor during the Granholm administration. Eichinger worked previously at MDNR, serving as legislative liaison and assistant to the chief of the wildlife division. Finally, Whitmer named Gary McDowell to head MDARD. McDowell is a farmer and a lifelong resident of Rudyard MI, where he represented District 107 in the Michigan House of Representatives for six years and served as the vice chair of the Agricultural Appropriations subcommittee.
The three appointments represent a notable change in Governor Whitmer’s approach to these departments. In contrast to the business-centered focus of past Snyder appointees, Governor Whitmer is signaling her commitment to environmental protection by choosing leaders with knowledge and a record of conservation. With Ms. Clark’s history as a clean energy advocate, Mr. Eichinger’s long standing professional conservation focus, and Mr. McDowell’s pro-environment record in the State House, these three appointees represent a notable turn towards protecting our air, land and water.