I am writing to urge you to oppose Senate Bill 1211 because it would cause significant damage to Michigan’s environment and economy by removing protections for whole categories of valuable wetlands. Rather than solving a problem, the legislation would create new difficulties, snarling proposed development in a bundle of confusing definitions and jurisdictional disputes.
The effect of the bill on important wetlands values is likely to be massive. As just one example, removing protections for wetlands between 5 and 10 acres in size will expose approximately 500,000 acres of wetlands to unregulated destruction. Destruction of these wetlands will compromise the benefits that they provide, including filtration of pollutants, storage of floodwater and fish and wildlife habitat.
The effect of the bill on the regulated community is likely to be increased confusion and uncertainty. By tying the definition of regulated wetlands to federal definitions that are currently working their way through the courts, which have rendered split decisions, S.B. 1211 will create a cloud of uncertainty over which projects do and don’t require permits.
S.B. 1211 is hasty and poorly-written legislation. I urge you to oppose the bill and allow future sessions of the Legislature to pursue any wetland reforms with careful, science-based deliberation.