PWIR: It Ain’t Fair, Congressman

A weekly update on environmental policy happenings from Ryan Werder, Political Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Twitter: @rjwerder).

It Ain’t Fair, Congressman.
Benishek’s constituents don’t agree with him that oil subsidies are “fair” and it’s costing him votes.

While Michigan families pay about $6000 each year in federal taxes, the fact that oil companies get $6000 each minute in taxpayer subsidies is simply not being received well by voters. Just ask Northern Michigan’s Congressman, Dan Benishek. His constituents don’t at all agree with him about that arrangement being “fair.”

Also in this week’s Political Week in Review this week:

Benishek’s Record Cuts Own Poll Numbers; Green Scissors Report Cuts Spending

Support for Congress has never been lower, but Rep. Dan Benishek from Michigan’s 1st Congressional District in Northern Michigan is feeling it more than most. The reason? Rep. Benishek supports providing special tax breaks to oil companies at a time when they enjoy record profits and our country has a record deficit. He says they are paying their “fair share.”

A new Public Policy Polling survey conducted in northern Michigan showed that 66% of likely voters support ending oil subsidies (only 19% want to continue them), and 65% support the idea of the EPA requiring power plants to lower mercury and carbon emissions. As Rep. Benishek’s environmental record became publicized through the League of Conservation Voters’ television ads over the last few weeks, Benishek’s favorability rating in his district fell by 16 points. That is a massive drop.

The poll results can be viewed alongside the positive recommendations of the Green Scissors Report, which suggests ways to cut $380 billion from the federal deficit while simultaneously improving the environment. At Michigan LCV, we believe it is important to offer alternatives and not just criticism; that is why we have consistently promoted these alternative measures to cut the deficit, including eliminating oil subsidies.

Snyder to Veto “No Stricter Than Federal” Bill?

Michigan LCV members are making a big push to urge Governor Snyder to issue his first veto. The target is House Bill 4326, a bill that would prevent the Governor from providing stronger protections for the Great Lakes than the minimum requirements on the book at the federal level. In 1976, Governor Milliken used that same authority to prevent algae blooms from destroying the ecosystem of Lake Erie.

Environmentalists, conservationists, and everyone else who cares about the Great Lakes are urging him to veto the bill, so that he will not tie his own hands — or those of any future Governor — from taking decisive measures to protect the Lakes that define our state.

Please join nearly 500 other Michigan LCV members and voice your opposition to this bill! To join the front lines of conservation advocacy and be among the first contacted to take powerful action in the future,click here to join our Conservation Action Team.

EPA Recovers More Oil Than Enbridge Reported Spilled

The EPA has recovered almost 1.14 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River, which was polluted from an Enbridge in July 2010. That’s great, though… right?

Well, here’s the problem: Enbridge reported in December 2010 that 840,000 gallons of oil spilled into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, however the EPA has already cleaned up 1.14 million gallons of oil. The math just doesn’t fit.

As an aside, the DEQ is overseeing the cleanup on Talmadge Creek, itself. It took over regulatory oversight from the EPA this summer because Michigan currently has higher water quality standards than those at the federal level. It’s just another reason to urge the Governor to veto House Bill 4326, the “No Stricter than Federal Standards” bill.

Deer Season Opener

The annual holiday known as Opening Day was Tuesday, with blaze orange-clad hunters taking to the Michigan woods in search of whitetail deer. Aside from being a favorite tradition for thousands and thousands of Michigan families, hunting keeps deer herds to manageable sizes. Hunters also contribute conservation funds through license sales and the 10% federal tax on firearms and ammunition, much of which is returned to the states.

Even so, hunter recruitment is decreasing, in large part, because of a lack of places to hunt. Recent bills in Michigan would unfortunately further restrict the amount of available public land. A few examples:

Senate Bill 822 and SJR Q would divert Natural Resource Trust Fund money to build industry roads through existing state land. House Bill 4298 would require the Department of Natural Resources to allow more roads cutting through state land, overall. Finally, Senate Bill 248 would limit the acreage that the state may own, period. When one of the biggest obstacles to hunting is the actual places to do it, few things are more anti-hunting than capping, carving, and reducing state land acreage.

Please let us know if you have good hunting stories of your own, especially if you do so on state land. Email me your story atryan.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Michigan LCV all wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. We’d love to post pictures of your family enjoying your holiday in Pure Michigan if you’d like to send them to us atinfo. Thanks!

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director

This Political Week in Review was written, researched, and compiled with extensive assistance from our Project Associate, Drew YoungDyke.


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