HANCOCK -- State Senate candidate Mike Lahti today announced his proposal to protect Michigan’s land and water by permanently banning oil drilling in the Great Lakes and holding oil companies accountable to pay for cleanup and damages -- instead of Michigan taxpayers -- when their mistakes harm Michigan’s vital natural resources and the Upper Peninsula way of life. Lahti is running for state Senate in the 38th District, which covers 13 of 15 counties in the U.P.
"The U.P. is unique in that our jobs and our recreation are so dependent on clean lakes, rivers and streams, and pristine forests that an oil spill that pollutes our waters or harms our land would endanger every facet of our lives here," said Mike Lahti. "My plan to ban drilling in the Great Lakes and hold oil companies accountable will help us protect our land and waters for the jobs we have now and for our children so they can stay here in the U.P. to live, work and raise their families."
Lahti’s plan to protect our land and water would:
* Guarantee that oil companies -- not taxpayers -- are required to pay for cleanup and damages when their negligence is responsible for oil spills;
* Permanently ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes;
* Allow Michigan citizens to hold oil companies accountable when their actions result in damage;
* Require oil companies to immediately notify the state and area residents, businesses and all other affected property owners of an oil spill.
"My business relies directly on our freshwater, and if an oil company comes up here and pollutes and ruins our water and our land, that will hurt my ability to make a living and support my employees," said Pat Peterson, owner of Peterson’s Fish Market in Hancock. "Mike Lahti’s plan to protect the U.P. means that I can keep working along with all of the other small businesses that rely on visitors, as well as the timber and mining industries that provide good jobs for families and neighbors. Mike has the experience we need in the state Senate to make sure that our natural resources and our way of life here in the U.P. are protected."
In July 2010, an estimated 1 million gallons of oil gushed into the Kalamazoo River, resulting in the Midwest’s largest oil spill ever. The federal government has repeatedly warned Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline, about the quality of its pipelines. Enbridge pipelines have sprung at least a dozen leaks since 2003, and the company has been cited for other safety and environmental violations in Michigan. However, Enbridge is taking two and a half years to "consider" making necessary repairs or replacing the pipe that spewed oil into the Kalamazoo River and threatened to reach Lake Michigan. Enbridge also owns the Lakehead Pipeline System, which includes a line that runs on the bottom of Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac and across the U.P.
"Mike Lahti understands that protecting our natural resources means that not only will we be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the U.P., but so will our children and their children for generations to come," said Paul Leach, former editor and publisher of Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine. "His plan would protect us from oil spills that would threaten our campgrounds, our fishing, our hunting and all of the small businesses that rely on our outdoor recreation for their livelihoods. We need this kind of protection and Mike Lahti is the only candidate who can deliver it for us."
As the Chair of the House Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Lahti has fought hard to protect Michigan’s unique natural resources. In the recently completed state budget Lahti successfully won the re-opening of U.P. campgrounds that had been closed due to budget cuts back in 2009. He has also voted to protect our waters from companies that would come in to bottle and sell Great Lakes water to other states, and has fought to keep invasive species like the Asian carp out of Michigan waters.
Mike Lahti is a small business owner and job creator in the U.P. As an insurance agent and developer, he has worked in his community on projects that have built and restored buildings, revitalized downtown and created new businesses. Lahti is a lifelong resident of Hancock and currently serves in the Michigan House of Representatives.
For more information on Lahti’s efforts to protect our land and water, visit www.LahtiForSenate.com.