Currently, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for both issuing and enforcing environmental permits. The culture of the agency often fosters a negligent attitude toward prompt adjudication of permit applications. The agency's mission of protecting the environment often conflicts with the agency's role of fair and timely permitting. The governor should sign an executive order that separates environmental permitting from enforcement by creating a new, dedicated permitting agency, while leaving environmental enforcement with the DNRE. The new permitting agency would provide a one-stop shop for all individuals and businesses needing state permits or licenses, including nonenvironmental ones.[*]
This organizational change would send a clear signal that Michigan is serious about improving its regulatory climate. Creation of a permitting agency would not require hiring new employees, but rather involve transferring permitting and licensing employees from existing agencies. The new agency would be directly responsible to the governor and subject to statutory direction from the Legislature. In contrast to the current priorities at the DNRE, the primary mission of the new agency would be to adjudicate permits and licenses in a timely manner.
[*] The state requires a variety of business permits and licenses. Barbers must obtain licenses, for instance (see http://www.michigan.gov/ statelicensesearch/0,1607,7-180-24786_24788-79920--,00.html).