WSW: Snyder's Re-Election May Drive Great Lakes Policy
Governor Rick Snyder's re-election has ramifications for economic and social issues, as well as the Great Lakes.
RegularGreat Lakes Echo contributor Gary Wilson says Snyder's re-election may be the most important result for setting a regional environmental course. The election returns were good news for incumbents (only one Great Lakes governor lost a bid re-election) and for Republicans. The GOP now holds the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Wilson told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the governor of the "Great Lakes State" deals with many of the important issues related to water and the environment.
Wilson says Snyder had a mixed record of environmental issues during his first term. He says Michigan's Governor got off to a slow start during his first two years. But Wilson says Snyder deserves credit for trying to get Great Lakes governors to convene regular meetings again.
Wilson says a "see no evil" approach when it comes to some environmental issues is what he sees as Snyder's biggest weakness. On issues like hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," Snyder says Michigan has a solid record of safety. But Wilson says that ignores the new methods of fracking that involve much more water to extract oil and natural gas.
Pipeline safety is an issue that Wilson says should be a focus for Great Lakes governors. He says Snyder should put pressure on Enbridge Energy to replace an aging pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. Wilson says there are legal options that Snyder can pursue. But Wilson says the governor should use the high profile of his office to draw attention to the issue. Wilson says after the rupture of a pipeline and massive oil spill on the Kalamazoo River in 2010, the state should work hard to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Asian Carp DNA was recently found in the Kalamazoo River. But Wilson says the state can't do much more, in part because it's mostly a federal issue. But he says there are other invasive species that should be getting attention. Wilson says there's a highway which allows aquatic invasive species to travel great distances.
Wilson says groundwater is an issue handled at the state level. He says it's one of the most important issues facing the region. Wilson says the state should "err on the side of caution" when it comes to permits for fracking and other operations.
Asked about taking politics out of water issues, Wilson says the reality is that the two are intertwined. But he says it's frustrating that environmental and water issues get little attention during election campaigns.