February 4th, 2019
On February 4, 2019 Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2 to restructure and re-focus the Department of Environmental Quality. The change signals a much needed culture shift in the tone and approach the new department will take. The move is intended to improve staff morale, increase Department accountability and transparency, and focus the organization around protecting human health and the environment. In addition to the Department’s amended structure, Governor Whitmer directed the department to create new offices, processes, duties, and responsibilities including the Offices of the Clean Water Public Advocate, Climate & Energy, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate. Governor Whitmer appointed Regina Strong, formerly of the Sierra Club, to the office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and recently appointed Ninah Sasy to the office of Clean Water Public Advocate.
The Order also created a staff reporting system built into the bureaucracy to ensure that critical public health issues could not be neglected going forward.
Executive Order 2 eliminated the three controversial “Fox in the Henhouse” Oversight committees that ceded rule and permit decision making power of the DEQ to Committees of Snyder Appointees – many from the very industries and entities they were responsible for regulating.
However, the legislature rejected this Executive Order forcing it to be reissued with two of the three panels still intact in Executive Order 6.