LANSING – Legislation to reduce regulations and provide incentives for businesses that volunteer to become certified “clean corporate citizens” through qualifying environmental management programs was approved Tuesday (May 15) by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. John Proos.
“Protecting our environment is about preserving healthy communities and building a healthy economy – especially in Southwest Michigan, where our outdoors supports many opportunities like agriculture and tourism,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I sponsored this initiative to incentivize Michigan businesses to continue to be environmentally responsible and help the state more efficiently use its limited resources. Many Michigan businesses already have this ethic, and this program is about rewarding them for doing the right thing.”
Proos’ measure is part of a four-bill package that would create a new Clean Corporate Citizen Program within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The legislation would be voluntary and is aimed at reducing cumbersome regulations on job providers that choose to go above and beyond current state environmental requirements. (John Proos audio clip – :24)
Under Senate Bills 939-942, becoming a clean corporate citizen would require significant time and investment, including operating in accordance with an approved environmental management standard and creating a pollution prevention program. It would benefit local businesses and farms and incentivize them to participate in environmental management programs, such as the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).
“Encouraging cooperation between the state and our agricultural community for the safety and well-being of all Michigan residents is a positive, proactive approach,” Proos said. “This program is about helping reduce job-killing red tape, making government more efficient, and protecting our environment all at the same time.”
Proos’ bill, Senate Bill 940, would give preference for state contracts to businesses designated as clean corporate citizens and the facilities under their operation. Under the program, participating farmers and businesses would earn faster permit processing times, extended length of permits, less frequent inspections and free employee training on performing environmental audits.
“Given the importance of our natural resources to the Southwest Michigan economy and way of life, encouraging greater environmental protection is the responsible step,” Proos said. “This program is also about enabling the public and government agencies to thank those businesses that are already going beyond the call of duty.”
SBs 939-942 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Source: News release from state Sen. John Proos