Earth Day Message to Michigan’s Worst State Senator

On Earth Day most writers choose to cover hopeful topics about greening the planet, but Democracy Tree feels this is the right time to talk about the dark side of Michigan’s environmental future.

Specifically Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38).

Casperson hails from Escanaba, the third largest city in the Upper Peninsula. His family owns Casperson and Son Trucking, a log transportation business. He began his political career in 2002 when elected to the 108th seat of the Michigan House, where he served on the Transportation, Agriculture and Resource Management, and Land Use and Environment committees.

The Senator has been in the news recently for making “birther” remarks about President Obama’s birthplace, claiming it’s suspicious that the media hasn’t explored this important story. Stupid? Yes…but it’s his environmental record that is the most disturbing.

Why not start with Casperson’s birthplace — Escanaba. Located in one of the most forested states in the nation, it is not among the 126 Michigan cities and communities that earned a national “Tree City” designation this year. They were beaten-out by multiple urban communities, including Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Novi, Port Huron, Royal Oak, Saginaw, and Southfield. The Escanaba Downtown Development Authority prominently features a photograph of a five-lane road on their website, promoting their “two miles of modern retail stores”. Indeed, Escanaba is a bit of a Northern Michigan anomaly in its urban appearance.

Although Casperson’s campaign finance reports go back a few years, his most recently filed statement tells the tale. Of the over $50,000 raised last year, much of it came from PACs, among them:

Cleveland Cliff Iron Co., MI Petroleum Jobbers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Infrastructure Transportation Association, DTE Energy, CMS Energy Employees, Michigan Association of Timbermen, MI Propane Gas Association, Michigan Petroleum, Michigan Energy (oddly, a Wisconsin company), AT&T of Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Truck-PAC, and Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, he accepted money from MSHA PAC — a Lansing-based lobby firm, Environmental Quality PAC — a hazardous waste disposal company, Save Our Shoreline-PAC — a group fighting for beach grooming “rights”,  Dean and Jewel Oswald — owners of Oswald Bear Ranch, and significant contributions from 19 individuals employed in the petroleum industry.

His legislative record directly reflects his money trail, and grows more shocking by the month.

Casperson launched his Senate career with a doozie — he introduced a Resolution (SR 10 of 2011) asking the United States Congress to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and to strip the department of its funding. Although the measure is not legally binding, it did pass the Senate.

One month later he introduced SB 248, a bill that became law (Public Act 240 of 2012) which limits the Department of Natural Resources ability to acquire land.

Although Casperson objects to environmental regulation of most any kind, he apparently likes a well-regulated pussy. In June of 2011, he introduced a bill to restrict the availability of the “Morning After Pill”. SB 420 would have prohibited pharmacies from selling RU-486, with only doctors allowed to administer it under the same restrictions found in abortion laws. This foray into reproductive law died in committee.

Then there was SB 470, a bill to preempt local zoning from prohibiting gravel pits. Like the above bill, it did not come to a vote.

Casperson introduced three bills that did become law. One to allow beachgrooming, another permitting the use of raw sewage for landscaping purposes, and a law to remove restrictions on bear cub petting, specifically meant to aid his contributor, the Oswald family.

In the last few weeks, the Senator has upped his game by introducing three bills that have outraged voters across the state. He started his legislative salvo with SB 78 — a bill to prevent the DNR from using science in forest management and from pursuing principles of bio-diversity. The law would require the DNR to promote economic uses of state land such as logging and mining. Next came a related bill, SB 214 which would tap the DNR Trust Fund for the purpose of building logging roads and dredging commercial harbors.

Ahh, but the piece de resistance is SB 288. The bill to allow wolf hunting in Michigan — introduced in the face of a successful statewide petition drive to put the controversial topic to a popular vote. Dealing from the bottom of the deck, Casperson added a bullshit $1 million dollar appropriation to the measure to render it referendum-proof.

What a dick.

So, the “green” message Democracy Tree makes on this Earth Day is: Upper Peninsula voters, please do the planet a favor and don’t re-elect this guy!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree