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South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Association, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality

Supreme Court of Michigan

July 17, 2018

SOUTH DEARBORN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC., DETROITERS WORKING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, ORIGINAL UNITED CITIZENS OF SOUTHWEST DETROIT, and SIERRA CLUB, Petitioners-Appellees,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY and DAN WYANT, Respondents-Appellants, and AK STEEL CORPORATION, Appellee. SOUTH DEARBORN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC., DETROITERS WORKING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, ORIGINAL UNITED CITIZENS OF SOUTHWEST DETROIT, and SIERRA CLUB, Petitioners-Appellees, v DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY and DAN WYANT, Respondents-Appellees, and AK STEEL CORPORATION, Appellant.

          Argued on application for leave to appeal March 6, 2018.

          Chief Justice: Stephen J. Markman Justices: Brian K. Zahra Bridget M. McCormack David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Kurtis T. Wilder Elizabeth T. Clement

         Syllabus

         South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Association, Inc. (South Dearborn) and several other environmental groups petitioned the Wayne Circuit Court for judicial review of a decision of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue a permit to install (PTI) for an existing source under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), MCL 324.101 et seq. In 2006, the DEQ issued Severstal Dearborn, LLC (Severstal) a PTI that authorized the rebuilding of a blast furnace and the installation of three air pollution control devices at Severstal's steel mill. In the years that followed, the permit was revised twice; each successive permit modified and replaced the preceding permit. Emissions testing performed in 2008 and 2009 revealed that several emission sources at the steel mill exceeded the level permitted. The DEQ sent Severstal a notice of violation, and after extended negotiations, they entered into an agreement, pursuant to which Severstal submitted an application for PTI 182-05C, the PTI at issue in this case. The DEQ issued the permit on May 12, 2014, stating that the purpose of PTI 182-05C was to correct inaccurate assumptions about preexisting and projected emissions and to reallocate emissions among certain pollution sources covered by the PTI. On July 10, 2014, 59 days after PTI 182-05C was issued, South Dearborn and several other environmental groups appealed the DEQ's decision in the circuit court. AK Steel Corporation (AK Steel) purchased the steel mill a short time later and moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because South Dearborn's petition was untimely filed. According to AK Steel, South Dearborn's right to appeal a PTI for an existing source was based in MCL 600.631 of the Revised Judicature Act, MCL 600.101 et seq., and therefore the period in which to file an appeal was governed by MCR 7.123(B)(1) and MCR 7.104(A), which require that an appeal be filed within 21 days after the issuance of the permit. The court, Daniel A. Hathaway, J., denied AK Steel's motion to dismiss, holding that South Dearborn's petition for judicial review was timely filed because MCL 324.5506(14) governed the PTI appealed in this case and, therefore, South Dearborn had 90 days to file the petition. AK Steel appealed in the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals, Riordan P.J., and Saad and M. J. Kelly, JJ., affirmed the result but on different grounds, holding that the appeals period outlined in MCL 324.5506(14) applies only to operating permits and that MCL 600.631 and MCR 7.119 governed this appeal because, in its view, the contested-case provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), MCL 24.201 et seq., applied to the permitting decision pursuant to MCL 24.291(1). Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that the petition was timely because it was filed within the 60-day period provided by MCR 7.119 and MCR 7.104(A). 316 Mich.App. 265 (2016). AK Steel sought leave to appeal in the Supreme Court, and the DEQ filed a separate application raising nearly identical arguments. The Supreme Court consolidated the applications and scheduled oral argument on whether to grant the applications or take other action. 500 Mich. 966 (2017).

         In an opinion by Justice Bernstein, joined by Justices McCormack, Viviano, and Clement, the Supreme Court, in lieu of granting leave to appeal, held:

         The final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) recognizes the right to judicial review of the issuance or denial of a permit to install for an existing source in accordance with MCL 600.631 and provides that an appeal of such a permit action is governed by MCL 324.5506(14). MCL 324.5506(14) provides 90 days to seek judicial review of a decision to issue or deny a permit to install for an existing source. A petition for judicial review of the issuance or denial of any of the types of permits for an existing source that are governed by MCL 324.5505 and MCL 324.5506 must be filed within 90 days of the DEQ's final permit action. Accordingly, the trial court correctly denied AK Steel's motion to dismiss because the petition for judicial review was timely filed. Given that decision, Part III(B) of the Court of Appeals opinion was vacated as moot.

         1. The final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) provides that appeals of permit actions for existing sources are subject to MCL 324.5506(14). The plain language of this sentence indicates that a court must turn to MCL 324.5506(14) for the rules governing appeals of permit actions for an existing source, including appeals in the circuit court in accordance with MCL 600.631. The last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) does not merely notify the reader of the contents of MCL 324.5506(14); reading the last sentence as a mere descriptor of the contents of MCL 324.5506(14) would strip it of any independent meaning or legal purpose. Rather, by saying that appeals of permit actions for existing sources are "subject to" MCL 324.5506(14), the last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) instructs the reader that a right to appeal certain permit actions for an existing source, including a right to appeal in the circuit court in accordance with MCL 600.631, exists and is subject to MCL 324.5506(14). By using the phrase "subject to" in MCL 324.5505(8), the Legislature indicated its intent that MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14) be read together, not in isolation. Reading MCL 324.5505(8) as working with MCL 324.5506(14) gives the full text of both statutes independent meaning and avoids reducing the final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) to a mere descriptor of the next section. Additionally, the general reference to "permit actions" in the final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8), rather than a reference to a specific type of permit, indicates that appeals of all three permit types listed in the first sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) are contemplated. Accordingly, appeals of permit actions that are subject to MCL 324.5506(14) include, at a minimum, appeals of the issuance or denial of a permit to install, a general permit, or a permit to operate for an existing source.

         2. The fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) provides that a petition for judicial review is the exclusive means of obtaining judicial review of a permit and shall be filed within 90 days after the final permit action. The term "a permit" does not only refer to the operating permits described in the immediately preceding sentence of MCL 324.5506(14), which provides, in pertinent part, that any person may appeal the issuance or denial of an operating permit in accordance with MCL 600.631. Rather, MCL 324.5506(14) must be read together with MCL 324.5505(8), and the cross-reference in MCL 324.5505(8) to MCL 324.5506(14) demonstrates that appeals of the issuance or denial of a permit are subject to MCL 324.5506(14) when the permit is for an existing source. Furthermore, the presence of the indefinite article "a" preceding the word "permit" in MCL 324.5506(14) suggests that the statute refers to more than one type of permit. Had the Legislature intended the fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) to refer only to operating permits, then it would have used that specific term, or another restrictive term, rather than the general phrase "a permit." Four permit types are mentioned by name in MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14), which indicates that the Legislature knew how to be specific when it so intended. Moreover, when the Legislature wanted to use "permit" to refer to a particular previously referenced permit, it used more restrictive language; for instance, the first sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) lists three types of permits that an owner or operator of an emission source might possess and instructs how "such a permit" and "his or her permit" may be reviewed when referring back to those specific permits. Because the fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) refers to "a permit," this nonrestrictive language refers to any of the four types of permits mentioned in MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14). Accordingly, a petition for judicial review of the issuance or denial of any of the four types of permits for an existing source that are governed by MCL 324.5505 and MCL 324.5506-one of which is a permit to install- must be filed within 90 days of the DEQ's final permit action. In this case, South Dearborn's petition for judicial review was timely filed within the 90-day window because South Dearborn filed the petition 59 days after the permit was issued.

         3. The conclusion that the fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) applies to any of the four permits for existing sources that are governed by MCL 324.5505 and MCL 324.5506 does not render other avenues for appeal superfluous. First, no internal conflict was created within MCL 324.5506(14). The first sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) addresses a discrete group of persons who might challenge a permit action-a person who owns or operates an existing source-and also provides them a right to contest various types of permit actions, not merely the issuance or denial of a permit. The second sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) states that owners or operators may file a petition for administrative review of the previously listed permit actions pursuant to the contested-case and judicial-review procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act. Therefore, the first two sentences of MCL 324.5506(14) exclusively concern the rights of owners and operators of an existing source to seek administrative review of specific permit actions, which is a legally distinct avenue of potential relief from judicial review. The third sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) states that any person may appeal the issuance or denial of an operating permit in accordance with MCL 600.631, which means that non-owners and non-operators also have a right to judicial review of the issuance or denial of operating permits, even if they possess no right to administrative review. Accordingly, the first three sentences of MCL 324.5506(14) each have an independent legal purpose that is unaffected by the conclusion that the fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) applies to any of the four permits for existing sources that are governed by MCL 324.5505 and MCL 324.5506. Second, there was no conflict with the right to appeal the issuance or denial of a permit to install for a new source pursuant to MCL 324.5505(8). The first two sentences of MCL 324.5505(8) govern only the appeal of permit actions for specific permits-and only when the permit is for a new source. The fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14) applies to judicial review of permits for an existing source, including issuance or denial of an operating permit, which is not addressed in MCL 324.5505(8). Finally, the Court of Appeals misconstrued the surplusage canon. The surplusage canon applies only when a competing interpretation gives effect to every clause and word of a statute. There was no such competing interpretation offered in this case.

         Affirmed in part for different reasons; Part III(B) of the Court of Appeals opinion vacated; case remanded to the circuit court.

         Justice Wilder, joined by Chief Justice Markman and Justice Zahra, dissenting, would have affirmed the portion of the Court of Appeals opinion that held that MCL 324.5506(14) describes only two different appeals and that the term "a permit" does not refer to a third class of appellant who may appeal any type of permit. Reading MCL 324.5506(14) as a whole, sentence four's placement immediately after the sentence recognizing judicial review of an operating permit provided a highly relevant context for interpreting the statute, and therefore the more reasonable interpretation of sentence four was that "a permit" refers to the term "operating permit" used in the immediately preceding sentence, rather than to a PTI, a type of permit that is not mentioned anywhere in MCL 324.5506. The majority's interpretation renders nugatory both MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14); the Legislature differentiated between new and existing sources and the identity of the challenger, and permitting any party to seek judicial review of any permit under sentence four of MCL 324.5506(14) renders these distinctions meaningless. Justice Wilder also would have reversed the holding in Part III(B) of the Court of Appeals opinion that MCR 7.119 governs, because the APA does not apply under these facts. MCL 24.291(1) states, in pertinent part, that when licensing is required to be preceded by notice and an opportunity for hearing, the provisions of the APA governing a contested case apply, and MCL 24.203(3) defines "contested case," in pertinent part, as a proceeding, including licensing, in which a determination of the legal rights, duties, or privileges of a named party is required by law to be made by an agency after an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing. Therefore, the correct interpretation of these provisions requires an evidentiary hearing before a contested case in order for the APA to apply. Because that did not happen in this case, Justice Wilder would have held that the APA did not apply. Finally, Justice Wilder would have concluded that because the APA was not applicable, the provisions of the Revised Judicature Act, MCL 600.101 et seq., for judicial review applied. Therefore, MCR 7.123, the catch-all rule for appeals of agency decisions not governed by another rule, applied in this case, and MCR 7.123 provided 21 days for petitioners to challenge the DEQ's decision to issue the PTI. Because petitioners' challenge came 59 days after that decision, Justice Wilder would have held that the challenge was not timely.

         BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

          OPINION

          Bernstein, J.

         In this case, we consider how long an interested party has to file a petition for judicial review of a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) decision to issue a permit for an existing source of air pollution. We hold that MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14) provide that such a petition must be filed within 90 days of the DEQ's final permit action. Therefore, the circuit court correctly denied AK Steel Corporation's (AK Steel's) motion to dismiss pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(1) because the petition for judicial review was timely filed 59 days after the final permit action in this case. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals in part, albeit for different reasons, and remand this case to the circuit court for further proceedings.[1]

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         AK Steel operates a steel mill within the Ford Rouge Manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Before being acquired by AK Steel in 2014, the steel mill was operated by Severstal Dearborn, LLC (Severstal). The steel mill is subject to air pollution control and permitting requirements under the federal Clean Air Act, [2] 42 USC 7401 et seq., and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), MCL 324.101 et seq. In order to comply with the Clean Air Act, Part 55 of the NREPA requires the DEQ to promulgate rules to establish a permit-to-install program, MCL 324.5505(2), and an operating-permit program, MCL 324.5506(4).

         In 2006, the DEQ issued Severstal a permit to install[3] titled "PTI 182-05," which authorized the rebuilding of a blast furnace and the installation of three air pollution control devices at Severstal's steel mill. In the years that followed, the permit was revised twice, first in 2006 (PTI 182-05A) and again in 2007 (PTI 182-05B). Each successive permit modified and replaced the preceding permit.

         Emissions testing performed in 2008 and 2009 revealed that several emission sources at the steel mill exceeded the level permitted by PTI 182-05B. The DEQ sent Severstal a notice of violation, and after extended negotiations, they entered into an agreement, pursuant to which Severstal submitted an application for PTI 182-05C. The DEQ issued the permit on May 12, 2014, after a period of public comment and a public hearing as prescribed by the NREPA, MCL 324.5511(3). The DEQ stated that the purpose of PTI 182-05C was to correct inaccurate assumptions about pre-existing and projected emissions and to reallocate emissions among certain pollution sources covered by the permit to install.

         On July 10, 2014, 59 days after PTI 182-05C was issued, appellee South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Association, Inc. (South Dearborn)[4] and a number of other environmental groups appealed the DEQ's decision by filing a petition for judicial review in the Wayne Circuit Court.[5]

         AK Steel purchased the steel mill a short time later and filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(1), arguing that South Dearborn's petition was untimely filed and thus the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the case.[6] According to AK Steel, while MCL 324.5505(8)[7] and MCL 324.5506(14)[8] provide a right to appeal the issuance or denial of an operating permit[9] and a permit to install for a new source, and state when such appeals must be filed, neither statute applies to a permit to install for an existing source.[10] Instead, AK Steel argued that South Dearborn's right to appeal a permit to install for an existing source is based in MCL 600.631 of the Revised Judicature Act, MCL 600.101 et seq., and that the period in which to file an appeal is thus governed by MCR 7.123(B)(1) and MCR 7.104(A). AK Steel claimed that South Dearborn's appeal was untimely because it was not filed within 21 days, as required by those court rules.

         The circuit court disagreed. The court noted that MCL 324.5506(14) states, "A petition for judicial review is the exclusive means of obtaining judicial review of a permit and shall be filed within 90 days after the final permit action." Relying heavily on the Legislature's use of an indefinite article, the circuit court found that the phrase "a permit" in MCL 324.5506(14) included the permit to install appealed in this case. Therefore, South Dearborn had 90 days from the date that the fourth successive permit was issued to file a petition for judicial review. Accordingly, the circuit court held that South Dearborn's petition was timely filed and denied AK Steel's motion to dismiss.

         AK Steel appealed in the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the result, but on different grounds. In the Court of Appeals' view, "[t]he circuit court erred by ignoring the plain context of [MCL 324.5506(14)] and placing far too much importance on the Legislature's use of the indefinite article 'a.'" South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Ass'n, Inc v Dep't of Environmental Quality, 316 Mich.App. 265, 273; 891 N.W.2d 233 (2016) (SDEIA). Rejecting the circuit court's reasoning, the Court of Appeals held that the appeals period outlined in MCL 324.5506(14) applies only to operating permits. Id. at 274. The Court of Appeals determined that MCL 600.631 and MCR 7.119 governed this appeal because, in its view, the contested-case provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, MCL 24.201 et seq., applied to the permitting decision pursuant to MCL 24.291(1). Id. at 277. On this basis, the Court of Appeals held that the petition was timely because it was filed within the 60-day period provided by MCR 7.119 and MCR 7.104(A). Id. at 277-278.

         AK Steel sought leave to appeal in this Court. The DEQ, participating for the first time in these legal proceedings, filed a separate application raising nearly identical arguments. This Court consolidated their applications for the purpose of appellate review and scheduled oral argument on the applications. South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Ass'n, Inc v Dep't of Environmental Quality, 500 Mich. 966 (2017). Our order instructed the parties to address, in substantive part:

(1) whether MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14) prescribe the applicable time period for filing a petition for judicial review of the Department of Environmental Quality's issuance of the permit that the petitioners are seeking to challenge, and (2) if not, whether the issuance of that permit was a decision of that agency subject to the contested case provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, such that the time period for filing a petition for judicial review set forth in MCR 7.119(B)(1) applies, rather than the time period established by MCR 7.123(B)(1) and MCR 7.104(A). [Id.]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court reviews de novo the grant or denial of a motion to dismiss an appeal for a lack of jurisdiction.[11] Whether the circuit court has jurisdiction over this appeal is a question of statutory interpretation that we also review de novo. People v Mazur, 497 Mich. 302, 308; 872 N.W.2d 201 (2015).

         The principal goal of statutory interpretation is to give effect to the Legislature's intent, and the most reliable evidence of that intent is the plain language of the statute. Id. When interpreting a statute," 'we must give effect to every word, phrase, and clause and avoid an interpretation that would render any part of the statute surplusage or nugatory.'" People v Rea, 500 Mich. 422, 428; 902 N.W.2d 362 (2017), quoting People v Miller, 498 Mich. 13, 25; 869 N.W.2d 204 (2015). Moreover, "[n]ontechnical words and phrases" should be construed according to their plain meaning, taking into account the context in which the words are used. Rea, 500 Mich. at 428. "When a word or phrase is not defined by the statute in question, it is appropriate to consult dictionary definitions to determine [its] plain and ordinary meaning . . . ." Id.

         III. INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF MCL 324.5505(8) AND MCL 324.5506(14)

         The focus of this appeal is on the interplay of MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14). These subsections govern appeals of various DEQ permitting decisions made pursuant to Part 55 of the NREPA. The critical dispute in this case is whether the fourth sentence of MCL 324.5506(14)-"A petition for judicial review is the exclusive means of obtaining judicial review of a permit and shall be filed within 90 days after the final permit action"-applies to the issuance of a permit to install for an existing source. The Court of Appeals held that this sentence applies only to operating permits. SDEIA, 316 Mich.App. at 272-273. We disagree and conclude that the Court of Appeals failed to read MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14) together so as to "harmonize the[ir] meaning, giving effect to the act as a whole." G C Timmis & Co v Guardian Alarm Co, 468 Mich. 416, 421; 662 N.W.2d 710');">662 N.W.2d 710 (2003) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         A. MCL 324.5505(8)

         We begin our analysis with MCL 324.5505(8), which states:

Any person may appeal the issuance or denial by the [DEQ] of a permit to install, a general permit, or a permit to operate authorized in rules promulgated under [MCL 324.5505(6)], for a new source in accordance with . . . MCL 600.631. . . . Petitions for review shall be the exclusive means to obtain judicial review of such a permit and shall be filed within 90 days after the final permit action, except that a petition may be filed after that deadline only if the petition is based solely on grounds arising after the deadline for judicial review. Such a petition shall be filed no later than 90 days after the new grounds for review arise. Appeals of permit actions for existing sources are subject to section 5506(14). [Emphasis added.]

         The first two sentences of MCL 324.5505(8) provide that "any person" may seek judicial review in accordance with MCL 600.631[12] to challenge the issuance or denial of certain permits relating to new sources "within 90 days after the final permit action . . . ." However, the permit at issue in this case was issued for an existing source, which is addressed in the last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8)-"Appeals of permit actions for existing sources are subject to section 5506(14)." (Emphasis added.) The plain language of this sentence indicates that we turn to MCL 324.5506(14) for the rules governing appeals of permit actions for an existing source, including appeals in the circuit court in accordance with MCL 600.631.

         AK Steel and the DEQ argue that the last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) does not provide a right to judicial review of permit actions for an existing source pursuant to MCL 600.631; rather, it merely notifies the reader of the contents of MCL 324.5506(14). We reject that interpretation. Reading the last sentence as a mere descriptor of the contents of MCL 324.5506(14) would strip it of any independent meaning or legal purpose. Such a reading is contrary to the interpretive principle that a statute should be construed so as to avoid rendering its language surplusage. Rea, 500 Mich. at 428. Rather, by saying that appeals of permit actions for existing sources are "subject to" MCL 324.5506(14), the last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) instructs the reader that a right to appeal certain permit actions for an existing source, including a right to appeal in the circuit court in accordance with MCL 600.631, exists and is subject to MCL 324.5506(14). Stated differently, such appeals are governed by MCL 324.5506(14).

         This reading is consistent with our interpretation of similar statutory language in Mayor of Lansing v Pub Serv Comm, 470 Mich. 154; 680 N.W.2d 840 (2004). That case involved a utility company that wanted to build a pipeline. Two statutory provisions, MCL 247.183(1) and MCL 247.183(2), outlined the approval process for a pipeline.[13] The utility company argued that because the plain language of MCL 247.183(1) stated that it was "subject to" MCL 247.183(2), the company had to comply only with MCL 247.183(2) and not MCL 247.183(1) as well. We rejected that argument. Id. at 159-160. In doing so, we examined the phrase "subject to" and noted that it is defined as "dependent upon." Id. at 160, citing Random House Webster's College Dictionary (2001). From there, we reasoned:

When used as it is here and in other places in the Legislature's work, it is clear that the subsections work together . . . . That is, both subsections are applicable because the relevant words in subsection 1, the "subject to" words, do not mean that the requirements of subsection 1 do not apply to those utilities that are covered also by subsection 2. [Mayor of Lansing, 470 Mich. at 160.]

         We further note that Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed) provides that to be "subject" to something includes, among other things, being "contingent on or under the influence of some later action <the plan is [subject] to discussion>." This signals that when an item or event is subject to another item or event, the former and the latter must be considered together. Therefore, by using the phrase "subject to" in MCL 324.5505(8), the Legislature indicated its intent that MCL 324.5505(8) and MCL 324.5506(14) be read together, not in isolation. This reading also makes sense in light of the same language used elsewhere in Part 55 of the NREPA to indicate that the application of one provision is affected by another.[14] Reading MCL 324.5505(8) as working with MCL 324.5506(14) gives the full text of both statutes independent meaning and avoids reducing the final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) to a mere descriptor of the next section.

&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;AK Steel also urges us to disregard the final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) because it does not explicitly refer to a permit to install. However, when we consider the effect of the words "permit actions" in that sentence, it is clear that identifying a specific permit type in the statutory language was unnecessary. The first sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) states, "Any person may appeal the issuance or denial . . . of a permit toinstall, a general permit, or a permit to operate . . . for a new source in accordance with . . . MCL 600.631." (Emphasis added.) An issuance and a denial are two types of actions that the DEQ can take in response to a permit application. The last sentence of MCL 324.5505(8) then states, "Appeals of permit actions for existing sources are subject to section 5506(14)." (Emphasis added.) Read in context, "permit actions" refers, at minimum, back to the two types of departmental actions mentioned in the first sentence: an issuance or a denial. It is also clear that a permit action requires a permit to act upon. In addition to a permit to install, two other types of permits are listed in the first sentence of the statute, both of which could be issued for an existing source. The general reference to "permit actions" in the final sentence of MCL 324.5505(8), rather than a reference to a specific type of ...


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