LANSING – The massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reaffirmed a few things about Republicans: that it will criticize President Obama just for waking up in the morning, and they hate government and say the private sector can do everything better until the private sector causes a disaster and they call for government help.
A pair of resolutions introduced and approved in the Senate on Thursday reinforced those two principals. They attacked the President and tried to blame him for the BP oil spill.
On Wednesday researchers confirmed that at least one Asian carp had been discovered in Lake Calumet, above the locks at the Chicago River, and that led Republicans to introduce and approve Senate Resolution 166 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 47 on Thursday.
Senate Democrats objected to the partisan language in the resolution that said,
“A resolution to call the Obama Administration to task for its failed leadership on preventing Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and call again for immediate actions to prevent further carp movement into the Great Lakes.”
Last February, the Senate unanimously passed two similar resolutions that urged the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate actions to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and to develop long-term strategies to address this problem. But this time the Republicans thought it more important to take shots at the President than address the problem.
Last winter the federal government launched a new $78.5 million plan to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. However, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm deemed the proposed measures insufficient, and she directed Republican Attorney General "Manoogian" Mike Cox to seek a legal solution. He filed a motion to the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency order to close the locks connecting the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal to Lake Michigan. However, the conservative court rejected the motion. I guess we need a better AG if he can’t even win in a friendly court.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, introduced an amendment to strike out the partisan language, but the Republicans would have not of that, and it failed along party lines. Prusi said the President was taking the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the resolutions should single out them and not the president. At the very least there is no reason to make it a partisan attack.
“They have been the ones who have been delaying and studying and perhaps giving the President some bad advice on how to resolve this issue,” he said. “But I don’t think that it will serve us well if we just point the finger at the President, making this into a partisan issue.”
It makes no sense to ask some to do something, and then attack them at the same time. The resolution also attacks the President for the BP oil spill, despite the fact that the oil-friendly Bush Administration stripped out regulations and allowed BP the permit to drill when they did not have adequate safety measures in place or a real plan to address an oil leak.
“Whereas, The Obama Administration already has one ecological disaster on its watch. The administration should not allow another disaster with longer-term consequences and within its power to prevent from coming to fruition.”
Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, noted the irony of the Republicans scramming for government help now.
“I would like to welcome my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to the belief that the government needs to be strong and vigorous in its mission to protect the people from harm and to help us address harms in the environment that we cannot address on an individual basis,” she said. “I think it is wonderful that we have bipartisan agreement on that issue today. I hope that we remember it when we have other environmental issues come up in the near future.”
Brater also said she hopes the Republicans sudden concern for the environment continues. She said Republicans can’t continue to call for smaller government, refuse to pay the true costs of environmental protection to keep invasive species out of our ecosystem and prevent other harms to the environment, refuse to regulate industries that cause environmental harm and then blame the person who happens to be in the White House when a disaster that has been brewing for decades finally comes to a head.
She called on the Republicans to start moving bills in the Legislature to protect Michigan from ecological disaster that they have been blocking.
“Sitting in the natural resources committee right now are bills to prevent mercury from circulating in our bloodstream; bills to prevent bottles which contain petroleum plastics from being wasted and instead have a deposit and to be recycled; and bills to protect our water and air,” Brater said. “Most interestingly, a bill that would prevent the spread of invasive species in our ecosystem, introduced by the good Senator from the 32nd District (Prusi), is languishing in that committee.”
In the end, the majority of Democrats, unlike Republicans, put partnership aside, and the resolutions passed by a vote of 31-3.
“We should work with the federal government to provide the resources to prevent more of these invasive species from entering our ecosystem at our ports and through our ships that are circulating, and many other ways that we should be working together to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from destroying our ecosystem,” Brater said.