In Michigan, there are many different land use activities that require a landowner to obtain a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). In most cases, the landowner and EGLE can come to an agreement on the appropriate conditions for issuance of a permit. But sometimes the permit is denied.
After denial of a permit application by EGLE, an appeal is available. If the inter-agency appeal fails, there is usually an appeal to the circuit court available. But what standard does a circuit court use to review EGLE’s denial of a permit application? It depends on the type of permit and the applicable law.
For most environmental permits issued by EGLE, the standard of review is whether the decision was “arbitrary and capricious” or “clearly erroneous.” This means that the court will review the decision to determine if it was based on a rational and reasoned analysis of the facts and applicable law, and whether it was supported by substantial evidence.
However, for permits issued under the Clean Water Act, the standard of review is more deferential to EGLE. The court will uphold the decision unless it is found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” This means that the court will give more deference to EGLE’s decision and will only overturn it if it finds that EGLE acted outside its legal authority, or if the decision was not based on a rational and reasoned analysis of the facts and applicable law.
In other words, any judicial review of EGLE’s decision on a permit application will be deferential to the initial finding. While it’s certainly possible to obtain reversal or modification of a permit denial, it is generally an uphill battle.
It’s important to note that the standard of review can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and it’s best to consult with an attorney who is familiar with environmental and land use law and the Michigan court system for guidance on how to proceed with an appeal. Dalton & Tomich has represented numerous clients regarding EGLE permits. If you need assistance with an EGLE permit application, please do not hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to speak with you.