By Scott Bellinger
Michigan Oil and Gas News
LANSING, Mich. — Changes in the organizational structure of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that take effect on Jan. 15, will see the Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals — which has primary regulatory authority over the permitting and drilling of oil and gas and mineral wells in the state — upgraded to the status of a division within DEQ.
State Geologist and Assistant Supervisor of Wells Hal Fitch, who has served as chief of the Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, will now have the title of director of the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division.
Other changes in DEQ’s Executive Office announced last week by DEQ Director Heidi Grether are aimed at improving both internal and external communications for the agency, Fitch said.
Fitch noted the reorganization will put Oil, Gas, and Minerals and the other two upgraded offices — Waste Management and Radiological Protection and Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance — on the same “plane” as other divisions within the agency, recognizing the equally important work done by all DEQ employees.
“I had advocated for some time to make Oil, Gas, and Minerals a division again,” Fitch said. Oil, Gas, and Minerals has functioned as an office since 2004.
Two new DEQ division directors were named, with Sue Leeming permanently assuming the role of Remediation and Redevelopment Division director and Jack Schinderle taking over as director of the Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division.
Three DEQ Deputy Directors will report directly to Grether: Robert Wagner, who had served as Program Deputy Director will be Environment Deputy Director; Amy Epkey, who was Administration Division Deputy Director will be Administration Deputy Director within the Office of Administration; and Maggie Pallone will serve as External Relations Deputy Director within the Office of External Relations in an expansion of her role as Policy and Legislative Affairs Deputy Director.