Spring 2017

Vol. 35, No. 1, Issue 102

Message From Chair Dennis J. Donohue

donohue.jpgWelcome to Issue Number 102 of the Michigan Environmental Law Journal. I understand this will be the last issue produced by our chair of the Environmental Law Section's Journal Committee, Chris Dunsky. Chris has done a remarkable job with the Journal for many years. As part of the strategic planning process, we recently completed a survey of Section members that confirmed the high value members place on the Journal which is a testament to Chris' efforts. He will be missed.

And speaking of transitions, I look forward to leading the section this year and working with the Section Council and members in continuing to provide value to our membership. Mary Anne Parks has returned to the section as the Section administrator and will be an important part of that effort. Key areas of focus this year will be increasing our presence on social media, increasing the number of webinars, working with our counterparts in the Ontario Bar to develop a joint program, and updating our bylaws. Please check out or section website and follow our section on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments.

Message From the Editor

by Christopher J. Dunsky, Editor

Chris Dunsky, EditorA new administration in Washington often marks the beginning of interesting times for environmental lawyers, especially when it changes from Democrat to Republican. When Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter, the Reagan administration distrusted nearly all EPA staff and gave those of us in enforcement very little to do. I remember spending many idle hours reading in the EPA library as an enforcement lawyer at EPA headquarters at the time. But after Congressional hearings regarding alleged sweetheart Superfund settlements and significant public criticism, President Reagan appointed Bill Ruckelshaus as administrator and gave him free rein to run the Agency without interference. Although the early Reagan EPA would have been happy to deep-six CERCLA, which a Democratic Congress had enacted just a month before the election, the later Reagan and Bush years proved to be the golden age for environmental lawyers. CERCLA litigation proliferated not only in the D.C. Circuit, but in U.S. district courts everywhere, and of course each defendant had to hire a lawyer.

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New Energy Legislation in Michigan Effective in April 2017

by Charles M. Denton & Lydia Barbash-Riley, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Charles Denton

Lydia Barbash-Riley


Significant Michigan energy legislation will become effective April 20, 2017, after Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Acts 341 and 342 into law in late December. Many years of heated discussions, legislative drafting and re-drafting, negotiations among the various stakeholders, and other activities resulted in this comprehensive new Michigan energy legislation, totaling almost 250 pages of text. The energy policy overhaul establishes a new long-term planning process for traditional utilities as they aim to retire power plants and consider replacements for coal; increases renewable energy portfolio and efficiency expectations; addresses the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) contested case procedures; and retains much of Michigan’s electric choice program.

Some of the key changes and compromises accomplished by this legislation are highlighted.

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Section Information

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Tammy Helminski

Editor, Michigan Env. Law Journal
Amanda Urban

Section Administrator
Mary Anne Parks

Officers & Council Members PDF


ELS Website

Join Us Now

Environmental Law Section dues are only $30 and FREE for law students and new members to the bar. To join, please complete a section membership application or attorneys can join online by logging into the Bar's member area and selecting Section Membership.

MELJ Editorial Committee

  • Amanda Urban
  • Allison Collins
  • Nicholas Leonard
  • Joni Roach
  • Lydia Barbash-Riley

Join: The MELJ is a team effort and would not be possible without the hard work of its contributing and associate editors, as well as the State Bar administrative staff. Consider joining the MELJ Editorial Committee. Contact Amanda Urban if interested.

Past Events

The Natural Resources, Energy, & Sustainability Committee of the Section recently hosted an Endangered Species Act & Land Use webinar. A recording of the webinar is available in the Section's library (log in required).

The Joint Environmental Conference between the Section and the East & West Chapters of the Air & Waste Management Association was held on December 1. Materials from the conference are available in the Section's library (log in required).

The Michigan Environmental Law Journal is a publication of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and exists to provide the Section’s membership a forum for sharing information and discussing environmental topics relevant to the legal community in the State. To that end, the MELJ encourages the open exchange of legal discourse on a variety of environmental topics, but does not endorse particular viewpoints or positions unless otherwise recognized by the Section. Any opinions espoused by the articles contained within are attributable to solely their respective authors and are not representative of the SBM, the Section, or its members generally. Publication is neither an endorsement nor a rejection of a particular position by the Environmental Law Section.