Attorney General: Granholm Exceeded AuthorityContact: John Sellek 517-373-8060Agency: Attorney General
February 20, 2009
LANSING - Attorney General Mike Cox today issued an opinion stating that Governor Jennifer Granholm exceeded her legal authority when she issued Executive Directive 2009-2, which attempted to create new legal requirements for the construction of coal-fired power plants in Michigan.
The opinion, #7224, was issued in response to a request from State Representatives Kevin Elsenheimer (Kewadin) and Kenneth Horn (Frankenmuth). They asked the Attorney General to rule on the governor's legal authority to impose new air permitting standards for the construction of coal-fired power plants.
Cox found that the directive attempted to impose new requirements not found in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) or other laws, thereby exceeding the governor's legal authority. The opinion is binding on the governor and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Granholm issued Executive Directive 2009-2 on February 3, 2009. The directive would have required DEQ to deny air emissions permits under NREPA for coal-powered plants if it determined there are "feasible and prudent alternatives" to constructing coal-fired electric power plants. The directive also would have required DEQ to make a "determination" if there is a "reasonable electricity generation need" for a proposed coal-fired plant and consider alternative methods of meeting that need before approving a permit.
"Governors can sign bills into law, but they cannot write them. That is the legislature's job," said Cox. "If the governor wants to pursue changes to the law, the legislature is the proper forum."
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