Dr. Grenetta Thomassey, of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, urges each of us to contact State Senator Tom Casperson at 517-373-7840 about three topics:
- Take up SB744 in committee. SB 744, “Extension of Environmental Permit Processing Period” requires a department processing an environmental permit application under NREPA to extend the processing deadline by 120 days at the applicant’s request. Currently, the department has the discretion to issue an extension equal to 20% of the processing time, which varies depending on the purpose of the permit. This bill makes applicant-friendly improvements to the state Wetland Program and the Inland Lakes and Streams Program permitting process. The bill has been referred to Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, and will not be taken up unless Committee Chair Casperson hears from interested stakeholders.
- Oppose the plan to return wetland protection to the federal government as a cost-cutting measure, abolishing the State Wetland Protection Program. Today, 90% of permit requests are processed by the DEQ within 60 days, a full month before the 90-day deadline. Moving to federal control would weaken protections, and significantly extend the time it takes to get a permit. Northern Michigan builders, farmers, and yes — environmentalists — all oppose this move.
- Allow the Wetland Advisory Council, which recommended SB744 in October of 2010, to complete its work.
To learn more, check out this fact sheet: MI Wetland Protections At Risk