Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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Gas Prices

U. S. Rep. Bart Stupak - May 11th, 2006
After eight months of stonewalling, after gas prices broke $3 a gallon, after crude oil reached nearly $75 a barrel and after 129 Democrats signed a discharge petition demanding action on my gas price gouging legislation, Republicans have finally been shamed into taking up a gas price gouging bill.
As the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I have been calling for hearings on gas price gouging for over eight months. For eight months, I have been asking for consideration of my legislation, the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies Act, which is designed to crack down on gas price gouging.
For eight months, Republicans in Congress have stonewalled. Up until today, Republicans have simply put forth shallow imitations of Democratic ideas and returned to their old standby: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
My legislation, the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies (FREE) Act, would instruct the Federal Trade Commission to develop a legal definition of gas price gouging. (Last week, the House of Representatives moved forward on gas-gouging legislation based on concepts found in Rep. Stupak‘s proposed act. -- ed.)
Most people are shocked to find out that there are no federal laws against gas price gouging. Therefore, the Federal Trade Commission has never brought a gas price gouging case to court.
Why is this? Because there is no definition of gas price gouging.
Well, even if the President and congressional Republicans don’t know how to define gas price gouging, consumers know it when they see it. Gas costs 70 cents more per gallon right now than it did at this time last year. Profits for refineries went up 250% between September 2004 and September 2005.
During the first quarter of this year, the largest refinery, Valero, saw a 60% profit increase. That’s gouging, and, while it happens, congressional Republicans are turning a blind eye.
In contrast, 125 House Democrats have signed a discharge petition, demanding that my bill be brought to the floor. More are adding their names each day.
These Members are tired of the Republican stonewalling. They want action on a real gas price gouging bill with teeth, not a watered down imitation.
Just as we need to address gouging, Congress should also take a look at the way oil futures are bought and sold.
Seventy-five percent of the multi-billion dollar oil futures industry is completely unregulated, without transparency or oversight by the federal government or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
This is Enron all over again. Without federal oversight, there is no way to ensure these futures traders are not manipulating the market to drive up the price of oil.
I have introduced the PUMP Act, or the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act.
This bill would require all futures traders to play by the same rules - ending the speculation, fear and greed that drive today’s oil prices. It has been estimated that stopping this speculation could reduce the price of a barrel of oil by as much as $20, providing consumers with immediate relief.
These are the kind of ideas that we should be promoting to provide consumers immediate relief.
But, instead, Republicans retreat to the same refrain: drill in the Arctic National Wildlife and provide big tax breaks to big oil. You don’t drill your way to energy independence. Tax breaks for the President’s big oil friends don’t result in lower gas prices.
It is time for a real energy policy that alleviates consumers’ pain at the pump today and begins to address this country’s long term energy challenges.



Hold oil companies accountable

By U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

Oil companies continue to post record profits on the backs of Michigan families. High gas prices are killing our jobs in Michigan and take a huge bite out of family budgets. I have proposed action to hold oil companies accountable for their outrageous prices and provide immediate relief for consumers.
The numbers are staggering: Gas prices in Michigan currently average $2.89 a gallon, and are as high as $3.10 in some areas. And it‘s only going to get worse over the summer months.
The fact is, Michigan families are going to spend an extra $500 this year on gasoline. For a working family, that‘s a house payment, a month of groceries, or a semester of college textbooks.
High energy costs have a negative impact on Michigan‘s economy. Higher fuel costs lead to increased costs for our manufacturers, putting jobs at risk. According to General Motors executives, every $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil adds $4 million to GM‘s logistics costs.
Gas prices have a negative affect on tourism and recreation, a driving force in Michigan‘s economy. Families are planning shorter trips, or canceling vacations altogether.
As we dig deeper into our pockets to keep up with gas prices, the oil companies are making record-breaking profits. Exxon/Mobil recently reported an annual profit of $36 billion, the largest profit ever recorded for any company in U.S. corporate history.
Meanwhile, Exxon CEO Lee Raymond draws a salary of $69.7 million. That breaks down to nearly $110,000 every day. He makes more in one day than most people in Michigan make in a year! And to add insult to injury, when Mr. Raymond announced his retirement, Exxon gave him a $400 million retirement package-one of the most generous in history.
This situation is outrageous, and we need to take immediate action, both to provide short-term relief, and to develop long-term solutions.
I have introduced the Oil Company Accountability Act to close current tax loopholes that give the oil companies $5 billion in new tax breaks. My bill would put that money right back into the pockets of consumers, through a one-time, immediate $500 tax rebate for families. If Congress acts fast and passes my legislation, Americans could receive these checks by Labor Day.
But short-term solutions aren‘t enough. We need to look down the road and reduce our nation‘s dependence on foreign oil. The best way to do this for Michigan and the country, is through the development of homegrown renewable fuels, such as soy-based biodiesel and ethanol, made with corn and sugar beet byproducts.
The biofuels industry can create good jobs in Michigan, bring fuel prices down, protect the environment, and help local farmers create new markets. Our state will have five ethanol plants up and running by the end of the year. And last September, Biodiesel Industries announced that it will be building a three million gallon-per-year biodiesel production facility near Detroit.
If we act boldly and quickly, we can buy our fuel from middle America instead of the Middle East.
In the meantime, let‘s hold the oil companies accountable and give some relief to people paying the bill.


$25 gas giveaway in TC:
Hoping to hold the line on tourism this summer, the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering a $25 Speedway gas card to anyone who books a stay of four nights or more at any of 43 participating hotels, motels or resorts.
The “Pump Up Your Summer“ program‘s goal is to minimize any negative effect that higher gas prices might have on summer tourism, said Bureau President Brad Van Dommelen.
“It’s not just about us,” said Van Dommelen. “If this program brings more people to our community, that’s wonderful. It’s what we want. But I believe promotions like this can help people put into some perspective the portion of their vacation expense that actually goes to transportation. This additional cost shouldn’t keep them from enjoying the great things Michigan has to offer.”
For a visitor who makes a 500-mile round trip to Traverse City in a car that averages 20 miles per gallon, the card should reduce the impact of gas costs from $3 per gallon to $2 per gallon, said Van Dommelen.
The Bureau has installed a toll-free reservation line (1-800-714-0051) and a web page (www.pumpupyoursummer.com) to help popularize the plan.
 
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