In his first executive order, Gov. Rick Snyder has split the Department of Natural Resources and Environment back into two separate agencies. His action restores the organization of state government dealing with natural resources and the environment into two separate agencies; recreating the Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources.
Gov. John Engler created the DEQ — which I lead until 2002 — in 1995 by separating out the environmental regulatory functions from the DNR. It seems rather remarkable that Gov. Jennifer Granholm waited until the end of her eight years as governor to combine the DEQ and DNR into one agency, which created considerable turmoil and loss of productivity within the agency during her last year in office.
It is imperative that the new administration get control of the environmental regulatory function. During the past eight years environmental regulation has been a serious impediment to job creation in the state. Organizing environmental regulatory functions into a single agency should make it easier to address problems with the current dysfunctional regulatory bureaucracy.
Much hard work remains, however, to reverse the image of Michigan as a difficult place to do business; it will take much more than an organizational change. The new Legislature will need to work closely with Gov. Snyder to make statutory and programmatic changes if Michigan is to be competitive with other states in attracting new jobs.