Columns

Memorial Day can be any day

This past weekend we remembered and honored the American military – ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things, and died in service. These brave individuals left the safety of their homes in places like St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Stevensville, and Coloma to defeat evil, ensure justice, and fulfill the promise of freedom and liberty for all. America has freed more people than any other in the history of mankind – and it has come at a price.

The point of Memorial Day is to remember. It’s not about the speeches and parades – it’s about memorializing the Americans that fought and died for our freedom. At this moment, halfway around the world is some of the most despicable and desolate places you can imagine – Americans are there fighting and dying for liberty. In this world, terror will not rest, violence will not sleep, and evil will not die. However, if we honor and remember those who have served, compassion will prevail, justice will triumph, and freedom will reign.

None of us should need a reminder to pray for our brave men and women. And we don’t need to wait until Memorial Day or Veterans Day, we should just do it every day. Never forget those who have sacrificed and served, and don’t let your kids forget either.

Let this Memorial Day be a beginning and a rebirth of our commitment to live a life of service filled with passion and purpose. Let us honor every day those who made the ultimate sacrifice, thank those Veterans who defended our freedom, and thank our Active Duty men and women. God bless you, and may God bless America.

First Chemical Safety Law update in 40 years

After years of work, the House of Representatives last week advanced an update to our chemical safety laws by a 403-12 bipartisan vote. This vote marked a milestone for the American people as we modernize these rules for the first time in 40 years.

In 1976, under the leadership of Michigan’s own President Gerald Ford, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was a novel approach to regulating interstate commercial activity to address unreasonable risks presented by a certain chemicals. It was not meant to examine all chemical manufacturing and use, but rather provide a backstop of protection when suspicions about dangerous chemicals were not being addressed.

In the nearly four decades since TSCA’s enactment, there have been persistent concerns about the pace of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) work on chemicals, the ability of the agency to meaningfully use its existing authority, and whether the statute prevents certain regulatory efforts.

This is why our common sense legislation will clear up a hodgepodge of state rules and update and improve this toxic-chemical law that has remained unchanged for far too long. Overall, it will reduce risks to consumers and make chemicals and products we use every single day safer for all Americans.

This positive step in the right direction is a legislative achievement we can all be proud of and is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, ranging from environmental and public health groups to large and small industrial organizations.

Next stop: The U.S. Senate and then the President’s desk for signature into law.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov.

Protecting our Great Lakes water

The Great Lakes literally define our state and play a critical role in our economy and our way of life. It is our constitutional duty to protect them.

That is why the Michigan Senate recently approved my resolution opposing the request of a Wisconsin city to divert water from the Great Lakes.

Waukesha, Wisconsin is located in the Mississippi River basin and is the first community to seek approval to divert water from Lake Michigan to outside the Great Lakes basin. Such diversions are banned under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact that I supported when Michigan approved it in 2008.

We must protect the greatest collection of fresh water in the world and the groundbreaking compact designed to defend it. If the Waukesha request is granted, the unprecedented move would severely erode the ability of the Great Lakes compact to protect our water.

The city has requested approval to divert enough water to meet its current and future needs as well as supply water to surrounding areas that are not currently served by the city.

Even the revised proposal is a bridge too far. Waukesha’s request to divert more than 8 million gallons per day from Lake Michigan is unreasonable, and it should be rejected.

Senate Resolution 173 says the city of Waukesha has failed to meet the strict standards agreed upon by the Great Lakes states and provinces and that the Senate officially opposes the city’s requested water diversion.

The Michigan Senate is sending a unified message to the eight Great Lakes governors as they make the final decision on the proposal next month: Protect our water.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

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