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Our Michigan

By: Jim Becklund | Published: 8/21/2019


Pipeline Spill Consequences
Pipeline Spill Consequences
 

OUR MICHIGAN

            Michigan—we surely have a beautiful and diverse state. From the rolling hills of southern Michigan, to the flowing fields of our heartland, to the exquisite forests and natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula, from the shores to shining shores we should be proud of our “Pure Michigan.” However, there are many issues facing this state of ours. I’m only going to focus on two specific issues this time—pipelines and gun violence.

PIPELINES:

            Our state has become the home of many pipelines that crisscross our state transporting natural gas, propane, and crude oil at an ever-increasing and alarming rate. These are all accidents waiting to happen. Yes, accidents waiting to happen. It has become when not if a pipe will rupture or a gas line will explode causing great harm to our environment and potentially deadly to humans and nonhumans alike.

            Not to bore you with statistics but here are just a few. Between 2007 and 2017 there have been 22 major gas line disasters, between 2000 and 2009 there were 62 accidents resulting in 5 deaths. Enbridge oil pipeline spills have accounted for over one million gallons of crude oil gushing into our soil and water. This does not count the horrific oil disaster in the Kalamazoo River in July 2010 when Enbridge Line 6 B ruptured and another million-plus gallon of crude entered our environment. The cost of the spill and cleanup was over $1.21 billion and yet there will be long-lasting effects of the oil that could not be cleaned up. These were all in pipelines in which the gas and crude oil were mainly in transit to their refineries in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Our state is used as a “shortcut” for Canadian oil and we pay the price.

            Because of the influence of corporations through lobbying and “donations” to political campaigns there is no easy fix to this issue. Our efforts as individuals and as Green Party members is to PUSH, PUSH, PUSH. Push for the closure of all pipelines in Michigan including Line 5 that has the potential of causing catastrophic and permanent damage to our Great Lakes and wildlife. Push for complete reliance on clean renewable energy by 2030. This means we must do several things. First, make alliances with solar, wind and other renewable energy industries. Second, let our current legislators know how we stand through any means possible including calling, letter writing, signing petitions, visiting legislators’ offices and protests. Third, we need to grow our membership. We have a good platform that should appeal to a wide variety of Michigan voters. Get out there and promote and show them we are the best alternative to the duopoly. Fourth, we need to find members who are interested in running for office at all levels and who are willing to WORK for our values.

GUN VIOLENCE:

            We have become a society obsessed with fear and violence and too many have resorted to gun violence as their answer. From simple disagreements to drive-by shootings, to domestic violence to mass shootings gun violence is increasingly the answer. We have become a sad corrupt society. We have become so paranoid that the state has on record a total of 660,920 concealed carry pistol permits in August 2019. That is out of a total of 10 million residents including children under the age of 18.

            More statistics. In 2017 there were 1,138-gun-related deaths in Michigan. This included homicides and suicides. The annual average of gun-related deaths between 2008 to 2013 was 1,121. These numbers are way beyond acceptable. At one-point Detroit was crowned “the Murder Capital of the Country.” Every day the papers are full of deaths due to gun violence. Where will it end? Will the entire country be like the west in the 19th Century—everyone must carry a gun because you absolutely need to?

            We need to act immediately to stem the “death tide.”  Like the pipeline issue, it is not easily solved. The obstacles we face stems mainly from the duopoly and their reluctance to do anything. That is because their campaigns are funded, in part by the gun industry and the NRA. With hundreds dying each day due to gun violence we can no longer wait to press the implementation of commonsense gun laws.

            It’s interesting that in the last twenty years the U.S. have spent trillions of dollars on the War on Terror throughout the world yet the reality is that it is homegrown hate and extremism that are responsible for mass shootings and the loopholes in gun purchase laws that make it easier for irresponsible people to gain access to guns. It is now time for us to confront domestic terrorism and gun violence with the same fervor and grassroots support the government has applied to combatting international terrorism.

            It is sad that our own country has a record-high number of active hate groups including groups like the Proud Boys (in Oregon), Patriot Prayer, and the American Guard. These hate groups hide behind the Second Amendment to arm themselves for potential violence which can end in deadly consequences.

            Every year, there are thousands of violent hate crime attacks involving firearms in this country to say nothing of the domestic and racist gun violence crimes. Passing stronger gun laws has become imperative to our future. That and the fact that an overwhelming majority of people polled want stronger background checks, ban on assault rifles, and a ban on limits to magazines that hold large numbers of bullets. Again, commonsense gun laws are a priority.

            We must condemn the violent, hateful rhetoric taking root in communities across the nation and advance any and all commonsense gun safety legislation to make our country a more humane and safer place for our children and generations to follow. We, as Green Party members, need to support and even draft potential legislation to these ends. We must also work to elect our own in positions to do something about this plague of violent thought and guns as a resort to ideological differences. After all, we no longer live in the Old West of the late 19th Century.  

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