Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order to restructure and rename the Department of Environmental Quality. Last week the state Legislature overturned a similar order by Whitmer.
The major difference between the two is that the old order got rid of three controversial oversight panels. The new order keeps two of the business-friendly panels on environmental rules and permits but gets rid of the third panel.
The order renames the DEQ to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. It also creates an environmental justice response team, and new offices like the Clean Water Public Advocate.
Mary Brady-Enerson is the Michigan director for Clean Water Action.
“We believe that the reorganization will create a more responsive and transparent process for Michigan citizens," said Brady-Enerson. "Really work to protect our drinking water, our Great Lakes.”
Before Whitmer signed the order, Republican Senator Mike Shirkey weighed in. He said he would need to have a clear definition of “environmental justice” before he would be on board with the new order.
“If we can get that done I don’t think there’d be too much trouble getting her executive order completed," said Sen. Shirkey.
The order also creates new offices, including the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate.
A spokesman for Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield says Chatfield is glad Whitmer reached out to work with the Legislature on the issue.