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Article IV, Section 52 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 provides for the general authority of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) declaring "The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state ... to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety, and welfare of the people." This section further directs the legislature to " ... provide for the protection of the air, water; and other natural resources of the state from pollution; impairment and destruction." This article refined the sections of Michigan's earlier constitutions including the Constitution of 1835 and the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787 that referred to natural resources management and protection.
The Michigan legislature actively responded to this mandate with the passage and amendment of several environmental statutes dealing with the protection of Michigan's natural resources from " ... pollution, impairment, and destruction." These statutes were later codified into the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA).