Environment Picture
Topic: MEC Member Groups

Gov. Snyder’s chief to MEC Members: Brace yourself for sweeping changes in state government in 2011

Dennis Muchmore says state's fiscal mess is first, second and third order of business
Want to talk to Governor Rick Snyder? If you don’t have a concrete way to save the state money, don’t even bother trying to make an appointment.

That is the sobering message Snyder Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore delivered during a presentation to Michigan Environmental Council member groups at the organization’s annual member meeting Dec. 10.

Muchmore said the new leadership team is laser-focused on structural changes in the way state government operates in order to get the budget under control. That may mean eliminating some programming areas entirely. “Everyone is going to hate him. Hate us. But it’s going to happen anyway,” said Muchmore.

The new governor is willing to listen to ways to save the state money in the long run – even if it might require an upfront investment, Muchmore said. He used funding for early childhood education as an example of an area where early investments may pay off in the long term.

Muchmore predicted dramatic shakeups in state government that may result in wholesale elimination of some departments. The era of short-term budget patches is over, he said. Big changes are afoot. “But the areas you are interested in are not among those” being considered for the chopping block, he told the environmental crowd.

Protection of the state’s natural resources will remain intact, Muchmore said. Snyder is committed to revitalizing urban areas, maintaining existing protections against pollution from factory farms, and will continue to support the state’s burgeoning clean energy economy.

But Muchmore said he personally doesn’t believe clean energy generation from sources like wind and solar are capable of replacing existing baseload electricity plants, and Muchmore is skeptical that offshore wind production can be done economically and without unacceptable bird and bat mortality.

He urged the environmental groups to see the big picture, one that recognizes that strong environmental protections through the departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality are dependent upon a healthy economy. “We can’t have a successful DEQ if the rest of the state is going to hell in a handbasket,” Muchmore said.
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