Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Gunfire on the Great...
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Gunfire on the Great Lakes

Rep. Bart Stupak - November 30th, 2006
Earlier this month, at my prompting, the Coast Guard held a public meeting in Charlevoix to discuss its proposal to
establish 34 live gunfire training zones on our Great Lakes. The Charlevoix meeting brought to my attention a number of
reservations held by my constituents. While I recognize the importance of ensuring adequate training for Coast Guard personnel, these concerns should be addressed before this new proposal is adopted.
The Coast Guard’s initial plan to notify the public
via marine band radio and the federal register, demonstrates a bureaucratic mindset that is out of touch with the boating public. For many boaters, marine band radio is not their primary source of nautical information
and few people read the federal register.
To address this problem, I worked to include a provision in this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill that requires the Coast Guard put the word out by notifying harbormasters and local media of upcoming live fire exercises. While this minimal requirement is a step in the right direction, it is disconcerting that it required an act of Congress for the Coast Guard to provide adequate public notification.
Beyond notification, I am concerned that these zones are located in high traffic areas and will affect boating, fishing, and other activities on the Great Lakes. One of the zones covers part of the route used by the Beaver Island Ferry. Requiring the Beaver Island Ferry, as well as other boat traffic, to divert their course could increase fuel costs and travel time, possibly increase ticket prices and even reduce tourism to Beaver Island. Placing live fire zones in other heavily trafficked areas will also further endanger commercial and recreational mariners.
There are also environmental concerns. The training exercises will result in 7,000 pounds of lead being dumped into our Great Lakes each year. That is more lead than the entire state of Michigan and all of its industries and pollution sources emit to surface waters every year. The Coast Guard should conduct additional studies on the consequences of significantly increasing the amount of lead in the Great Lakes before moving forward.
We should also examine using
“green ammunition,” which is an environmentally friendly alternative to lead bullets. The environmental effects of the Coast Guard’s plan might be mitigated if the Coast Guard used this substitute to lead bullets.
Other excellent points were raised during the Charlevoix meeting. For instance, representatives of Native American tribes have not been consulted. The Coast Guard is required to consult the tribes because Great Lakes waters are held in trust for the tribes by the federal government.
We must also be careful that the Coast Guard does not run afoul of international treaties regarding the use and amount of weaponry allowed on the Great Lakes.
The citizens also asked the Coast Guard, “Why now?” Why, five years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, does the Coast Guard need increased fire power on the Great Lakes? Is there an imminent threat that requires increased weaponry on the Great Lakes? Does the Coast Guard really need all 34 zones on the Great Lakes? As these citizens’ questions were left unanswered by the Coast Guard, I will be following up with the Coast Guard.
As co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and founder of the Law
Enforcement Caucus, I understand the need for security at our nation’s borders. Our government has no greater responsibility than protecting its citizens. To the extent the Coast Guard’s live fire proposal helps prepare them for that task, it is worthy of discussion. Nonetheless, there remain a number of unanswered questions that the Coast Guard should address
before rushing to begin live fire training on the Lakes.

Congressman Bart Stupak (D) represents the 1st Congressional District.
 
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