Recently, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) changed its name to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or simply EGLE.
Why did the MDEQ change its name? How is this going to affect industry moving forward? What changes are in store as a result of this change?
First, let’s discuss the various name changes that have occurred to the Michigan environmental agency over the years. Originally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was the agency that oversaw both natural resources and environmental protection. In 1995, Michigan’s new governor decided the DNR should be divided into two separate agencies: one managing natural resources (including fish and wildlife) and one managing environmental protection (air, water, land, etc.). Similar to today, people were wondering the same thing: why did the MDNR change its name, how is this going to affect industry moving forward, and what changes are in store as a result of this change?
After operating as the MDEQ for 14 years, another change was made and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) was created. The MDNRE creation once again consolidated environmental protection and natural resources.The MDNRE proved to be short-lived. Just two years later, the MDNRE undergoes yet another permutation and becomes the MDEQ once again in 2011; once again splitting off natural resources from environmental protection.
The latest version of the MDEQ seemed to stick and we all got used to calling the Michigan environmental agency the “DEQ.” Finally settling in to one name and sticking with it, right? Sorry, wrong again. Yet another change in governor and another name change, this one the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or as employees have been instructed, simply EGLE (sounds like “eagle”).
Why did the MDEQ change its name, how is this going to affect industry moving forward, and what changes are in store as a result of this change?
As far as I can tell, the name change reflects some reorganization within the state agencies. Also, EGLE is quite a catchy name compared to DEQ. An eagle is powerful, majestic, graceful. It reminds me a bit of the quality revolution that U.S. automotive industry underwent in the early 1990s when we were tired of getting our automotive butts kicked by international automakers and committed to quality. These quality “reinventions” often start with a catchy slogan and glimmering banner. Perhaps that’s a bit of what we find with the name change.
The second two questions are easier to answer. Let’s put that into the context of the new EGLE. It is likely that the changes that we’ll see on the ground will be minimal. After all, the EGLE inspectors are still the same people, whomever inspected you last will likely inspect you again next time, and if not, it certainly isn’t because of an agency name change. If you had a good working relationship with your inspector before the name change, that should continue. The rulebook they will be bringing will likely be the same rulebook they had the last time. Rules changes are necessary if there is a statutory change, not automatic if there has been an agency name change. The permit they will be reviewing for compliance is the likely the same as the permit they reviewed the last time regardless of the name of the agency on the cover page. In short, this change was for internal purposes. In the short term we don’t expect to see anything change other than the agency letterhead and business cards.
And so it goes, don’t stress about the name change and continue doing your job (e.g. full compliance all the time). Things should go just fine moving forward.
CFR has been working with the MDNR/MDNRE/MDEQ/EGLE for over 25 years. Contact CFR if you need any assistance in navigating your requirements.