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Lawmakers Call for Citizen Oversight of Air, Water Quality

State Rep. Stephanie Chang and other lawmakers say Michiganders need a voice in air and water quality matters. (Michigan House Democrats)
State Rep. Stephanie Chang and other lawmakers say Michiganders need a voice in air and water quality matters. (Michigan House Democrats)
February 25, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Given the water crisis in Flint and air quality troubles in Detroit, some state leaders want to ensure the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is working for the people.

Along with several other lawmakers, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Chang on Wednesday announced a package of bills to bring back citizen oversight commissions for air and water quality.

Chang says citizens she's spoken with feel their voices are not being heard.

"Residents feel like they're going to hearing after hearing and not getting the results that they need and that it's just a process of rubber stamping and not really focused on environmental protection,” she states.

Despite worries from critics that it would limit citizen oversight, Gov. John Engler eliminated the commissions in 1991 by as part of sweeping government restructuring.

Chang says the proposed bills would establish a water quality commission and an air quality commission to oversee permitting, rule making and complaints.

Chang explains the commissions would include representation from the public, health professions, environmental organizations, the Department of Environmental Quality and industry.

"We want to make sure that it's a balanced commission so that there are multiple views represented and so it truly reflects the people of Michigan and what their concerns are," she stresses.

Other lawmakers involved in the legislation include Reps. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) and Phil Phelps (D-Flushing), as well as Sens. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor).


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI