As Michigan’s environmental problems mount, the commitment of elected officials to deal with them is questioned by a green monitoring group that laments lack of “real champions.”
Last week, in releasing their environmental voting scorecard dubbed “Non-partisan Look at Disappointing 2011-12 Legislature,” Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak said that while there was unanimity on issues such as invasive species, “there continues to be a devastating lack of real champions for Michigan’s Great Lakes, air, land water and wildlife.” The 100,000-plus-member league cited positive environmental voting records of 48 percent for House members, in contrast to 65 percent in the previous year. For the Senate, it was 52 percent compared to 47 percent the previous year.
In both chambers, Democrats by far scored higher than Republicans. Among three House Republicans cited by Michigan LCV with the highest score in the party at 46 percent was Rep. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City.
Ryan Werder, political director for Michigan LCV, said: “This scorecard makes clear that our legislators too often forget that Michigan’s natural resources are responsible for hundreds of thousands of Michigan jobs, billions of dollars from hunting, fishing and tourism, and a priceless sense of pride in Michigan’s unmatched outdoors.” The legislative scorecard, as well as other assessments, is available at www.michiganlcv.org.
Michigan LCV said that throughout his 2010 campaign, it “watched Rick Snyder campaign on a conservation platform. Now through, it is time to turn promises into actions because actions always speak louder than words.” In its latest tally, it dubbed 26 of Snyder’s actions as positive, 13 as neutral and 22 as negative.
Among negatives cited was signing of a bill— that “land conservancies fought most strenuously against all year”-- that caps the amount of land the state can own and manage for conservation and recreation purposes.
Also cited as a negative was appointment of Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Among positives cited were appointments of Rex Schlaybaugh, Jr., and Annoesjka Steinman to the Natural Resources Commission, and signing of a bill allowing sale of a former railroad in Petoskey for conversion into a recreational trail.
While not included in the Michigan LCV there are other elected officials whose green credentials should be considered.
Most notable are Attorney General Bill Schuette, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp Camp, RMidland, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow for their push for stronger federal action against the threat of Asian carp entry into the Great Lakes.
George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.