2017-11-16 / Opinion

Vote Would Allow Foreign Ships To Dump Untreated Ballast Water

To the Editor:

Lee Chatfield, our state representative, the person representing parts of three Great Lakes; Huron, Michigan, and Superior, just voted to allow foreign ships to dump untreated ballast water in Michigan ports.

Wayne Schmidt, our state senator from Traverse City, a freshwater community, late last week also voted in favor of the ballast “relief.”

It’s a bill that shippers favor because it relaxes rules Michigan put in place in 2005, which are some of the toughest ballast-water laws in the Great Lakes region. Michigan, the Great Lakes State. Go figure.

Mr. Chatfield has also ignored over 60 public body resolutions demanding that the owner of the Studebaker-era pipes running under the Straits of Mackinac stop sending millions of gallons of crude oil every day. Mr. Chatfield favors trying to save the oil once it spills by bringing in more booms and equipment. That’s his best stand. And he’s okay with the US Coast Guard goal of cleaning up 35% to 40% of the spilled oil as a “success.”

This is the guy representing millions, if not billions of investment dollars in tourism economy in his district. Mackinac Island, Les Cheneaux, Petoskey. He also represents us, people who fish, who love getting out on the water, and some who are fortunate enough to own land along the water. Some of those shoreline owners are corporations, too.

Lee Chatfield rode into office on a Christian vote, and that is his base. But that constituency is not opposed to keeping these lakes clean. I know. So why does he keep siding with the guys who threaten the well-being of his district with new versions of lamprey eels, or mussels, or Asian water fleas? And he is okay with a pipeline that is maintained by a handful of local jobs but which risks thousands of jobs at any moment, even as the legal agreement which keeps that pipeline going is violated time and again.

He needs to represent his district. He voted for the foreign shippers last week. Not for you and me.

Pat Egan
Brimley

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