Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced the restructuring of the Department of Environmental Quality into the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) through a series of Executive Orders. New offices created within the restructured department include; Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate.
The newly formed Office of Climate and Energy will exercise the powers of the Michigan Agency for Energy, which is now abolished, and will coordinate state departments and agencies on climate response, provide guidance and assistance for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and climate adaptation and resiliency.
The Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate will investigate complaints and concerns related to drinking water quality in the State of Michigan, among other tasks. While the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate who will accept and investigate complaints and concerns related to environmental justice within the state of Michigan. This will include an Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team, which is tasked with making sure all Michigan residents benefit from the same protections from environmental hazards. This response team will work across state agencies.
Additional changes established by Executive Order 2019-2 include Science Review Boards, which gives the Director the ability to create one or more science review boards to advise the Department and the Governor on scientific issues related to protecting Michigan's environment, the Great Lakes and the safety of drinking water. The Environmental Rules Board and the Environmental Permit Review Panels/ Commissions that were put in place by the legislature last year have been abolished and an Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules has been established.
The Governor issued companion Executive order 2019-3 and Executive Directive 2019-12 to strengthen PFAS response and align the state with the goals of the Paris Agreement Climate Accord.
Executive Order 2019-3 strengthens the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) as an effort to inform the public on PFAS, locate contamination, and take action to protect sources of drinking water.
Executive Directive 2019-12 enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 19 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The impacts of the changes will become more clear as the as folks settle into new roles and leaders are appointed to the new offices.