Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

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Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Department overview
Formed 1995
Preceding department
Jurisdiction Michigan
Headquarters Lansing, Michigan
Annual budget $502.6 million (2015)[1]
Department executive
  • Keith Creagh, Director (interim)
Child agencies
  • Air Quality Division
  • Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance
  • Office of Environmental Assistance
  • Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals
    Office of the Great Lakes
    Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection
    Remediation and Redevelopment Division
    Water Resources Division[2]
Website michigan.gov/deq

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (Michigan DEQ, MDEQ, or simply DEQ) is the agency of the U.S. state of Michigan.

The department was created in 1995. It mission statement says that it "promotes wise management of Michigan's air, land, and water resources to support a sustainable environment, healthy communities, and vibrant economy."[3]


In 1995, the DEQ was created by Executive Order No. 1995-18, which transferred environmental regulatory functions from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the newly created department.[4][5] This was part of a broader effort by Governor John Engler to "secure more direct oversight over" state environmental policy and reduce the number of state environmental employees through budget cuts."[4]

The DEQ's first director was Russell J. Harding, appointed by Engler.[4] Harding "developed a national reputation for leading opposition to any state intervention on climate change as well as most other policy initiatives proposed by the federal government or by the states and provinces of the Great Lakes Basin."[4] Under Harding, the Michigan DEQ "regularly spurned federal grants to study climate change" and rejected outreach from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking state engagement.[6] Harding said that he believed that addressing climate change would cause an economic risk to the state.[7]

In 1996, Executive Order No. 1996-1 transferred oversight of environmental health programs "relating to drinking water and radiological protection" from the Michigan Department of Public Health to the DEQ, and Executive Order No. 1996-2 transferred the Low Level Radioactive Waste Authority from the Michigan Department of Commerce to the DEQ.[5]

In 1997, Executive Order No. 1997-2 "transferred the Above Ground Storage Tank Program and the inspection of dry cleaning establishments" from the Department of State Police to the DEQ, and Executive Order No. 1997-3 transferred the Michigan Environmental Science Board and the Environmental Administration Division from the Michigan Department of Management and Budget to the DEQ.[5]

In 1999, the Water Quality Advisory Board was created by Executive Order 1999-10. This body is responsible for advising the DEQ on the "implementation of a comprehensive, long-term water quality monitoring program designed to measure the quality of Michigan's streams, rivers and lakes, and detect areas of the state that need additional water quality control efforts."[5]

In 2009, Governor Jennifer Granholm moved to merge the DNR and the DEQ into a new Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE).[5] The state Senate passed a resolution to stop the merger.[8] However, Granholm's Executive Order No. 2009-45 combined the two over the objections of the Senate.[5]

In early 2010, a new Saginaw Bay District headquarters of the Michigan DNR opened in Bay City; the building was reported to be the most energy-efficient in Michigan.[9] The building was the first governmental office building in Michigan to achieve LEED Platinum certification.[10]

In 2011, Governor Rick Snyder's first-ever executive order, Executive Order 2011-1, split the DNRE, returning DNR and DEQ into separate agencies,[5] which Snyder said would allow each to focus on its core mission.[11] Under a state law enacted in October 2011, the Michigan Geological Survey was transferred from the Michigan DEQ to the Western Michigan University (WMU) Department of Geosciences, making WMU "the designated geoscience agency in Michigan, with responsibility for mapping and assessing the state's geological resources."[12][13]

In 2015 and 2016, the Michigan DEQ was criticized for its role in the Flint water crisis; agency officials repeatedly dismissed citizens' concerns about water quality in Flint, leading to a delay in addressing lead poisoning in the city's water supply. The DEQ also revised water samples to wrongly indicate that the water was safe, changing the lead-level results from unacceptable to acceptable, delaying action.[14] DEQ Director Dan Wyant acknowledged in October 2015 that the department had failed to follow the relevant federal regulation and had made other errors.[15] The department also initially dismissed a researcher's reports about rising blood lead levels in Flint children.[16] A December 2015 report by the Flint Water Advisory Task Force found that "primary responsibility" for the Flint water crisis lies with the DEQ and that the department had agency "failed in its responsibility" to ensure safe drinking water.[16] Governor Snyder issued an apology, and DEQ director Wyant and DEQ public information officer Brad Wurfel resigned over the affair.[16]

Administration and budget[edit]

Sources of DEQ's FY 2015 budget
DEQ's FY 2015 expenditures

The DEQ is headquartered at Constitution Hall in the state capital of Lansing. The DEQ also operates ten district and field offices, covering a particular group of counties; these offices are located in the following cities Bay City, Cadillac, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Lansing, Marquette, Warren, and Detroit.[17]

Under Michigan Public Act 252 of 2014, the DEQ's budget for fiscal year 2015, which runs from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, is about $502 million.[1] In April 2014, Governor Snyder called for this funding to increase the residential recycling rate in Michigan, which stood then at about 14.5 percent.[18]

List of directors[edit]

  • Russell J. Harding (1995-2003) (under Governor John Engler)[19][20][4]
  • Steven E. Chester (January 2003-January 2010) (under Governor Jennifer Granholm)[21][22]
  • Dan Wyant (2011-December 29, 2015) (under Governor Rick Snyder)[23]
  • Keith Creagh (December 30, 2015-July 2016) (interim) (under Governor Rick Snyder)[24][25]
  • Heidi Grether (August 1, 2016 – present) (Under Governor Snyder) [26]


  1. ^ a b House Bill 5313: FY 2014-15 General Omnibus Appropriation Bill, Bill Analysis from the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency.
  2. ^ [1] Our Organization
  3. ^ DEQ Mission, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (accessed January 11, 2016).
  4. ^ a b c d e Rabe, p. 42.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g History of DEQ, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (accessed January 11, 2016).
  6. ^ Rabe, pp. 42-43.
  7. ^ Rabe, p. 43.
  8. ^ "Metro briefs: Granholm merger plan voted down". Detroit News. Detroit, Michigan. November 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  9. ^ Jeff Kart, New DEQ building in Bay City will be most energy-efficient building in Michigan (January 28, 2010).
  10. ^ DEQ Goes "Green" in Bay City, MiDEQ Spotlight (undated).
  11. ^ Governor Snyder signs first Executive Order, creates separate departments of natural resources and environmental quality (press release), Office of the Governor (January 4, 2011).
  12. ^ Julie Mack, Western Michigan University takes ownership of the Michigan Geological Survey program, MLive (October 12, 2011).
  13. ^ Cheryl Roland, Michigan Geological Survey finds new home at WMU, WMU News (October 12, 2011).
  14. ^ Paul Egan, State's handling of Flint water samples delayed action, Detroit Free Press (December 24, 2015).
  15. ^ John Wisely & Robin Erb, State admits mistakes in Flint water switch, Detroit Free Press (October 19, 2015).
  16. ^ a b c Paul Egan, Snyder apologizes, Wyant resigns in Flint water crisis, Detroit Free Press (December 29, 2015).
  17. ^ Locations, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (accessed January 11, 2016).
  18. ^ [2] Michigan's Residential Recycling Plan
  19. ^ Russell Harding, A Growing Disaster, New York Times (November 29, 2009).
  20. ^ Personalities in Politics — An Interview With Former DEQ Director Russell Harding, MIRS Capitol Capsule, Mackinac Center for Public Policy (August 13, 2004).
  21. ^ Granholm-Cherry name Directors of DEQ, State Police (undated press release), State of Michigan.
  22. ^ Amy Lane, Steven Chester, ex-director of Michigan DEQ, joins Foley & Lardner L.L.P., Crain's Detroit Business (February 4, 2010).
  23. ^ Emily Lawler, Director Dan Wyant resigns after task force blasts MDEQ over Flint water crisis, MLive (December 29, 2015).
  24. ^ Emily Lawler, Flint water prompts state changes: DNR Director Keith Creagh appointed as interim DEQ director, MLive (December 30, 2015).
  25. ^ Gov. Rick Snyder taps DNR Director Keith Creagh to guide DEQ through leadership transition, Office of the Governor (press release) (December 30, 2015).
  26. ^ http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3306_70582-391508--,00.html

Works cited[edit]

  • Barry G. Rabe, Statehouse and Greenhouse: The Emerging Politics of American Climate Change Policy (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004)

External links[edit]