To oversimplify a very complicated situation, with an Oct. 1 deadline looming for its termination, Michigan's wetland program is on the line with the Michigan Senate and House disagreeing.
The House is trying to strip out Senate language that doesn't allow the Department of Environmental (DEQ) to apply a standard for evaluation of “feasible and prudent alternatives” to wetland destruction that is any more stringent than federal rules.
The House is also trying to strip out an addition to the Senate version that messes with state protection of coastal waters. The Senate version requires the DEQ to negotiate a state programmatic general permit for all activities authorized by the federal Army Corps of Engineers, which is either impractical or illegal. It sets a two-year deadline for DEQ to do this, and if it is not done, the DEQ will lose power to issue state wetland permits in waters regulated by the Corps. Michigan could thus lose authority to regulate destruction and alteration of coastal wetlands, some of the most important wetland systems in the state.