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Governor Granholm Issues Executive Order Creating New Department of Natural Resources and Environment

October 8, 2009

Ongoing streamlining effort abolishes DNR, DEQ; transfers functions to DNRE

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today issued Executive Order 2009-45, creating a new Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) to protect and conserve Michigan's air, water and other natural resources.  The new department will assume the powers and functions of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which are abolished by the executive order.  The order takes effect January 17, 2010.

"The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is a new department for the 21st century," Granholm said.  "Experience has shown us that conserving natural resources and protecting the environment go hand-in-hand.  These efforts now will be coordinated under one department."

The new department's mission will be to conserve, manage, protect and promote Michigan's environmental, natural resource, and related economic interests for current and future generations.  This includes implementing an ecosystem-based strategy for resource management, effectively using natural resources in a sustainable manner, and providing for continuous improvements in Michigan's air, water and soils while facilitating and encouraging economic growth.

Bruce RasherA DNRE director will be appointed by the governor to head the department.  From now until January 17, a transition manager will coordinate the transfer of functions to the new state department. The governor today named Bruce Rasher as the transition manager.

Replacing two departments with one also is part of the Granholm administration's ongoing efforts to streamline state government.  Previously, three state departments, plus more than 150 state boards and commissions, were eliminated.  Including the new DNRE, the total number of state departments is now 16.  Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr., at the governor's request, is leading a broad review of state government that could eventually result in the number of state departments being reduced to eight.

"The new department will be leaner, more efficient and better able to manage our natural resources and protect our environment," Cherry said.  "I've been traveling around the state hosting town halls to get the public's input on government streamlining.  Creating this new department will put the interests of conservationists at the forefront."

Rasher is a former mayor of the city of Marshall and worked for many years for Consumers Energy in areas such as brownfield redevelopment and air quality.  He has a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife and a master's degree in business administration and finance.  Rasher presently is director of operations, asset repositioning and global corporate services for CB Richard Ellis. 

The executive order also transfers the Commission of Natural Resources to the DNRE and renames it the Natural Resources Commission.  The commission retains its authority to regulate the taking of game and other duties as prescribed by law.  The NRC also will advise the director on natural resources and conservation issues.

Several boards, councils or committees are abolished by the executive order.  The Site Review Board process is being eliminated for greater efficiency in environmental proceedings.  The Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks and the Water Resources Conservation Advisory Council are abolished and their functions transferred to the Natural Resources Commission.

The Michigan Trailways Advisory Council and the Michigan Snowmobile Advisory Committee also are abolished.  Their functions are transferred to a new seven-member Michigan Trails Advisory Council within the DNRE that will advise the governor and the DNRE director on creating, developing, operating and maintaining motorized and non-motorized trails in Michigan.

Several other entities are transferred to the DNRE.  They are the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority, Mackinac Island State Park Commission, Michigan Forest Finance Authority, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, and Office of the Great Lakes.

The executive order also authorizes the DNRE director to convene a seven-member Environmental Science Review Board composed of experts in biological sciences, chemistry, ecological science, engineering, geology, physics and related disciplines.  The board will advise the DNRE on scientific issues affecting the protection and management of Michigan's environment and natural resources.

Also impacted by the executive order is the Department of Agriculture.  After the executive order's effective date, the department director will continue to serve as the head of the department; however, in the future, the governor will appoint the department director.

The executive order transfers the regulation of horse racing from the Office of Racing Commissioner in the Department of Agriculture to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.  The Office of Racing Commissioner and the position of racing commissioner are abolished.  The Michigan Gaming Control Board's executive director will perform the functions of racing commissioner.

Three agricultural groups - Agricultural Preservation Fund Board, Michigan Family Farm Development Authority, and Pesticide Advisory Committee - are abolished by the executive order and their functions transferred to the Department of Agriculture.

A separate executive order (2009-44) abolishes the Michigan Climate Action Council, which completed its work, and the Aquatic Nuisance Species Council.