Give state business a say on regulations

A planned regulatory review panel would have six voting members from business organizations, and six from environmental groups. Giving input to those who must live with any rules makes perfect sense.

Environmentalists are pitching a fit in Lansing over the prospect that those most impacted by state regulations may have their views considered when the rules are weighed. That does not seem such an outrage.

Despite the hysterical claims that the foxes “will be guarding the hen house,” balancing regulatory review panels with those who have to live with the rules makes perfect sense.

The Republican-led House this week approved a Senate plan to create a new environmental rules committee to weigh the benefits of regulations against the burdens they place on individuals and businesses.

The panel would include six voting members from business organizations, and six from environmental groups. It would take nine votes to outright reject a rule; a simple majority could send the rule back to the originating agency for adjustment.

The even membership balance hardly seems as if it would allow industry to run roughshod over the rule making process.

But job creators and businesses will have a stronger voice than they do now, and that’s only fair.

A panel weighted heavily toward activists would not have the same appreciation of what’s involved in meeting regulations. Activists are not unbiased — they can be so single-minded in the pursuit of their cause that they are unable to see the unintended consequences of the solutions they seek.

Although there is no requirement of panel members for a scientific background, the committee will be assisted by science advisers selected by the environmental and health departments.

Also approved by the House were the creation of an environmental appeal panel to make recommendations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on permit and application disputes and an environmental science board within the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to advise the state agencies on environmental issues.

This is the right way to regulate. Rules should be thoroughly vetted by all those who are likely to be affected by them. Industry should not be shut out of the process, nor should activists be the only voices that are heard.

Protecting the environment should be a top priority of the state. But a radical approach that doesn’t consider the full impact of regulations on the state economy is not the best approach.

Adding business viewpoints to the review process will help assure rules make sense for both the economy and the environment. The House bills make sense and should become law.

— THE DETROIT NEWS