Proposed state enviro committees a positive move

State legislative moves to reestablish a pair of citizen oversight committees to keep an eye on environmental enforcement have a lot of people talking — in and out of the capital.

House and Senate Democrats have introduced bills in the respective chambers to set up panels to monitor the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality, water quality and oil and gas operations throughout the state, according to a story in Monday’s Mining Journal.

Specifically, the legislation would set up both the Air Pollution Control Commission and the Water Resources Commission, which were eliminated by a 1991 executive order by Gov. John Engler.

Advocates say citizen oversight would restore crucial decision-making power to the people for their communities and environment, which they say is more important than ever. Opposition to the measures, to date, has been scant. The Senate bills have been referred to the Committee on Government Operations, and the House bills have been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

At a glance, re-establishment of these committees, which in either circumstance would be populated by a blend of local officials and state experts, seems like a good idea. Certainly the concept seems positive. It’s unclear, however, why Engler, with his lengthy legislative experience, did away with them.

That said, the legislative process is typically arduous and lengthy. It will be informative to watch it unfold over time. Then, endorsement or opposition will be an easier task.

— The Mining Journal