Tom Pearce returned the Squire’s call to ask for his opinion on this topic. He said it is important to note that the governor is promoting this bill as a cost savings for the state. “Although is would only save the state a couple of million dollars, that’s still a couple million dollars,” Pearce said.
He further noted that Michigan is one of only two states to have an independent authority over wetlands. “This puts Michigan on an unlevel playing field with companies with multi-state growth. It creates a deterrent to working with the state because it brings in another layer of bureaucracy,” Pearce said.
Businesses with paperwork and documentation to deal with the Environmental Protection Agency have to start from scratch in dealing with Michigan’s independent Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), he explained.
Pearce said one of the reasons the DEQ was started by then Governor Engler was because it took so long to get approval from the EPA in wetland issues. Now, he said, it seems to take just as long to get DEQ approval as EPA approval. “Now that the DEQ is just as time consuming, one of the main reasons isn’t applicable,” he said.
Pearce said he’s received a lot of “heat” in his approval of the bill, and said it is one he can see both sides of. “I do understand their position. Water and wetlands is very important to Michigan, so maybe we should be spending more money on it than other states. This is an issue that needs to be decided on facts, not emotion.”