Public Act No. 214 was effectively made law on November 8th, 2011. It was initially introduced by Representative Eileen Kowall ( R ) to amend Public Act No. 451 of 1994, the "Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act". These two acts primarily deal with mining/permit regulations and environmental regulations pertaining to numerous types of mining..
The methods of application, oversight and general procedure regarding mining permits has been modified by this act. Through this amendment, Governor Snyder's Department of Environmental Quality is recognized as a major regulatory actor in this area. The DEQ had been previously merged with the Department of Natural resources by Governor Snyder's predecessor through an executive order, but has recently been re established through another executive order by Governor Snyder.
The language in this act was written specifically to separate ferrous mining from non-metallic mining. This provides a clear indication that the DEQ's responsibilities regarding these two types of mining are different. One of the largest changes implemented in this act relates to the DEQ's "Mining and Reclamation" program. The new language in this act that separates ferrous and non-metallic mining was written to allow the elimination of non-metallic mining oversight programs.
In an analysis of the bill, the House Appropriations Committee reported, "According to the DEQ, there has been no funding appropriated for... the nonmetallic mines, since 1982. Nonmetallic mines do not require a permit to operate, so the Department does not receive fee revenue for the nonmetallic mining program. DEQ has not participated in any enforcement or monitoring activities of these mines since funding was eliminated in 1982."
Another major feature of this act is to repeal a section of the 1994 act that required that the DEQ conduct "a comprehensive study and survey to determine the extent and type of regulation of mining areas that are necessary to the public interest". The House Appropriations Committee in it's analysis claimed that the study/survey has been completed as required by the previous act. The Senate Appropriations Committee concurred with this assessment, stating it was completed in the 1970s.
The Appropriation Committees of both the House and Senate agree that there will be no fiscal impact on the DEQ as a result of these changes. Since the DEQ hasn't dealt with non-metallic mines ind decades, this act is just an official abdication of that responsibility. The same is true of the public interest study/surveys.
This retreat from certain areas of mining regulation could possibly be supported by increased Federal involvement in Michigan mining reclamation projects. With reported freed up funds from other areas, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has been able to increase it's involvement in Michigan. The old coal mines of the greater Saginaw area being one example of this. Federal aid could possibly have helped the proponents of this act.