On February 4, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two executive orders and an executive directive to protect the Great Lakes, clean up drinking water, and combat the impacts of climate change.
Executive Order 2019-2 restructures the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The executive order also creates new offices within the department, including the Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate, Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team. It also creates a new Office of Climate and Energy that will work with the Governor to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and embrace more sustainable energy solutions.
Executive Order 2019-3 strengthens the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) as an effort to inform the public about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, locate contamination, and take action to protect sources of drinking water from these dangerous chemicals.
Executive Directive 2019-12 enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of Governors from 19 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
DEQ Director Liesl Clark, who will serve as Director of EGLE, said the executive actions will ensure that state government is more responsive to environmental challenges. “By creating offices like the Clean Water Public Advocate, we can get to work solving the problems that dozens of communities are facing with their drinking water,” she noted.