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Health, Science and Environment

Longtime clean water advocate takes a position on state review board

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Governor Whitmer has announced new assignments to Michigan’s environmental rule and permit review boards.

Environmental groups raised concerns about the boards when they were first formed - but they now feature many environmental advocates.

When the republican-created boards were announced in 2018, many environmental groups dubbed them “polluter panels” and said they would allow industry groups to override the state’s environmental rule and permitting process.

The Governor’s latest assignments to the boards feature health experts, environmental groups, and Murray Borrello, an Alma professor whose work focuses on water quality.

Over the years, Borrello has been one of the leading critics of the state’s permitting process when it comes to water quality.

“The governor has assigned a very fair and balanced group of people when it comes to representing the economy, the environment, and social areas of the state tourism or whatever,” Borrello said.

Borrello is hopeful the review board will offer the public greater transparency into the permitting and rulemaking process.

“Maybe in a way this is going to work on the opposite end and it’ll help people who care about the environment feel like we’re doing something right,” he said.

Borrello said the public perception has been that environmental regulations stall economic growth.

“But the truth is we’ve seen a precipitous decline in our water quality over the last twenty years and that does have an economic impact,” he said. “And it’s not positive.”

Borrello has been asked to serve a four-year term.