Stokes named as next DNR director
Lansing (AP) – Gov.-elect Rick Snyder said recently he’s
changing the setup of state government to include a six-person
super-cabinet responsible for keeping his initiatives on track.
As part of that change, Snyder plans to again split the
Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two separate
agencies. Gov. John Engler first separated them in 1995, but Gov.
Jennifer Granholm combined the agencies in 2009 in a cost-saving
Snyder named former agriculture director Dan Wyant as Department
of Environmental Quality director, while Science and Policy Office
Chief Rodney Stokes will become director of the Department of
Natural Resources. Current DNRE director Rebecca Humphries is
leaving to work for Ducks Unlimited.
Former Agriculture Deputy Director Keith Creagh, who just
retired, will become head of the renamed Department of Agriculture
and Rural Development.
Asked whether splitting the departments would cost more money,
Snyder said only that the move would help them work more
efficiently, so it should save money over time.
The three departments will work together in the Quality of Life
group. Snyder plans to divide all the state departments into six
separate groups, with each group represented on the super-cabinet.
Wyant will represent the Quality of Life group.
It’s likely that newly appointed budget director John Nixon will
head up a group that includes information technology, management
and budget and the Office of the State Employer, transition
spokesman Bill Nowling said. House Speaker Andy Dillon, soon to be
state treasurer, will head up another of the six groups.
Decisions on how the rest of the departments will be divided and
who will serve on the super-cabinet haven’t been made yet, Nowling
said. He also couldn’t say if Snyder will combine or divide any
other existing departments.
Snyder said he’ll still meet with the full cabinet, but wants
the super-cabinet to mirror the group of executives who reported to
him at computer maker Gateway Inc.
“I view this as a type of synergy, a way to work better
together,” he told reporters at a Capitol news conference.
Wyant said the three newly appointed department heads all know
each other and have extensive government and private-sector
“We’ve all worked in multiple administrations and we’ve worked
in a bipartisan manner,” said Wyant, currently president and chief
operating officer of the Edward Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis,
which promotes entrepreneurship and helps owners increase the size
of their small businesses.
He served for nine years as agriculture director under Engler
and Granholm, and some environmentalists worry he may favor
agricultural interests over environmental protection.
Cyndi Roper, Michigan director of Clean Water Action, said in a
release that Wyant “was an obstacle” to regulating pollution from
large industrial farms. “As the director of environmental quality,
Wyant will now be in charge of enforcing pollution laws and
regulations that he vigorously opposed enforcing as agriculture
director,” she added.
In contrast, the Michigan Agri-Business Association praised
Wyant’s appointment, noting he “is interested in solving problems
and helping obtain compliance with regulations, not just focused on
enforcement and punishing job providers.” The group also supports
Wyant said he’ll bring environmentalists and business groups to
the table. He’s currently on the board of The Nature Conservancy’s
Michigan chapter and said he supports Snyder’s concern for the
Hugh McDiarmid, of the Michigan Environmental Council, said he’s
waiting to see how much money a Snyder administration will spend on
oversight. Budget cuts already have diminished that role, he
“Pollution hotlines aren’t being answered. Cleanup of polluted
sites has largely come to a standstill,” McDiarmid said.
He called Stokes “a wonderful choice” and said he’s upbeat about
Snyder’s commitment to the state’s ecological resources.