U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) provided students with an
overview of environmental issues ranging from clean air laws to
trash yesterday during a speech at the Michigan Union.

Stabenow, the first woman elected from Michigan to the U.S.
Senate, chided the Bush administration for its policies while
outlining her own vision for the future of the environment.

“It would be tough to find a more anti-environment White
House than we have now,” Stabenow said, referring to
“rollbacks” in laws and funding concerning clean air,
global warming, toxic waste dumps and oil drilling.
“They’ve taken the environmental cop off the
beat.”

“This (issue) is very much about your future and what will
happen down the road. Decisions we are making today will have a
profound impact in the future,” she said.

Tying the environment to the loss of state manufacturing jobs,
Stabenow said companies should not have to decide between staying
afloat and meeting sometimes-costly environmental standards.

She added that many foreign countries, like Mexico, do not
enforce their own environmental protection laws, which allows their
companies to operate cheaper than their American counterparts.

“We need to be increasing environmental protection
standards around the world, so if standards are raised, they are
raised all around and everyone shares the cost,” Stabenow
said.

She suggested that the U.S. government use environmental
standards as a bargaining chip in future trade negotiations.

Stabenow also discussed Canadian trash dumping in Michigan,
which she says is an environmental and a homeland security risk.
Over 180 trucks from Canada carrying trash toward Michigan
landfills enter the state every day, she said.

She said she was frustrated by the Environmental Protection
Agency’s neglect in enforcing a law that requires the
state’s approval before allowing waste to be shipped in from
Canada.

Stabenow also said since the trucks are not being inspected
properly, they pose a threat to national security. Homeland
Security Director Tom Ridge has toured the border-crossing area
where the trucks enter by helicopter and has initiated an
investigation, she said.

“We have this on the radar screen to make them understand
this is a security as well as an environmental issue,” she
said.

Stabenow also spoke about preserving the Great Lakes and
preventing the United States from drilling for oil in Alaska.

State Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor), vice chair of the state
Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs committee, introduced
Stabenow.

“Everything (Sen. Stabenow) is doing at the federal level,
we are doing at the state level,” said Brater, who was the
recipient of the Sierra Club’s Environmentalist of the Year
award in 1996.

LSA freshman Ryan Werder, a self-described hiker, said he
attended the event because he is interested in the environment and
had never heard a federal politician speak before.

“I agreed with most everything (Stabenow) said. … I
liked her detailed approaches to solve the problems, especially in
the Great Lakes,” Werder said.

The event, titled “Women, Politics, and the
Environment,” was sponsored by the Environmental Issues and
Voice Your Vote commissions of the Michigan Student Assembly),
Project Democracy, the League of Conservation Voters Education
Fund, Students for PIRGIM and the College Democrats.

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