Kivela, Casperson sponsor resolutions in favor of County Road 595

Legislators hope bipartisan support will help get road built

Sen. Tom Casperson

Sen. Tom Casperson

LANSING, Mich.—State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, have introduced House Resolution 13 and Senate Resolution 9, respectively, in support of the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny approval for the building of County Road 595.

“The building of County Road 595 is supported by an overwhelming group of interests, individuals, stakeholders and elected leaders, including all the U.P. legislators, U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and retired U.S. Senator Carl Levin,” said Kivela. “Building this road would reduce the heavy traffic on Marquette streets and cut fuel consumption by creating a shorter route for trucks to travel from the Eagle Mine to its processing plant in Humboldt. This is a win-win situation for everyone, and the EPA should get on board and allow this road to be built.”

Nearly 100 semi-trucks and contractor vehicles travel the 120-mile round trip every day from the mine to Humboldt along a route that includes portions of County Road 550 and other local streets. These trucks carry heavy loads through communities and across the campus of Northern Michigan University.

“I applaud the Road Commission’s decision to appeal the EPA’s arbitrary and unreasonable refusal to permit the construction of County Road 595,” said Casperson. “This decision is about the Upper Peninsula’s future. If the current decision by the EPA is allowed to stand, it threatens to affect or halt economic development in the Upper Peninsula. I am grateful the Road Commission has decided to stand up against out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington who just don’t get it and are not at all concerned about our way of life in the Upper Peninsula. Frankly, we are tired of asking for permission to go to work.”

The House and Senate resolutions show bipartisan support for this new county road. Kivela and Casperson say the road is good for the mine and its jobs and will have a positive impact on  the communities surrounding the mine. Construction of the road will also create as many as 200 construction jobs for U.P. residents. The road commission was unable to issue a wetlands permit needed to build the road because the EPA objected, despite the fact it offered some 26 acres of wetlands for every one of the 22 acres that was proposed to be relocated.

County Road 595 would decrease and divert the commercial traffic by completing a new Class A road over a 21-mile dirt road, connecting County Road AAA in Michigamme Township with U.S. 41 in Humboldt Township.

“The Marquette County Road Commission believes that the EPA decision to not lift their objections on our CR 595 permit is arbitrary and capricious,” said James M. Iwanicki of the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC). “MCRC believes that in order to fulfill our mission to provide a safe and efficient system of county roads and bridges, we must appeal the EPA’s decision on CR 595.”

“Statistics do not lie. When you increase the number of vehicles on the road, while increasing the number of miles those vehicles are driven, you are also increasing the likelihood for accidents on our roads,” said Gary Johnson, Republic Township supervisor. “I support the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal, because I believe public safety must be a priority.”

Casperson and Kivela applaud interim energy agreement

CaspersonLANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tom Casperson and state Rep. John Kivela joined together Wednesday to applaud the news of an interim power agreement between Wisconsin Energies and Cliffs Natural Resources.

The agreement will result in the immediate elimination of the supplemental system resource (SSR) payments that were devastating Upper Peninsula rate payers.

“I want to sincerely thank Wisconsin Energies, Cliffs Natural Resources, and Governor Snyder’s team for all their efforts to reach this agreement,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “We know this was a difficult agreement to construct under the circumstances, so I am truly grateful for the hard work and sustained effort of each to come to this agreement as this was critical for families and businesses across the U.P.

“With this agreement now signed, we can turn our undivided attention back to finalizing the long-term solution for the U.P’s energy needs, and I know I join with the U.P. legislative delegation in remaining at the ready to assist in any way I can.”

Kivela joined Casperson in praising the agreement.

“This was a critical step in protecting Upper Peninsula families from damaging increases in their utility bills,” said Kivela, D-Marquette. “I want to thank all parties involved for putting the well-being of our communities at the forefront and for finalizing this deal to end the possibility of SSR payments. Now, it is my hope that everyone stays committed to finalizing a long-term fix for U.P. energy reliability.”

Kivela, Casperson hear testimony on resolutions in favor of County Road 595

LANSING, Mich.— State Reps. John Kivela and Scott Dianda and state Sen. Tom Casperson were on hand Tuesday to hear testimony from Marquette County Road Commission Chair Dave Hall, Vice Chair Joe Valente, and Engineer Jim Iwanicki with regard to House Resolution 13, House Concurrent Resolution 1 and Senate Resolution 9, respectively.

The resolutions are in support of the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny approval for the building of County Road 595, which would divert a vast majority of the commercial vehicle traffic that is currently passing through Northern Michigan University and the cities of Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming by completing a new Class A road over a 21-mile dirt road connecting County Road AAA in Michigamme Township with U.S. 41 in Humboldt Township.

“Considering the level of importance to the region that these resolutions represent, it was great to have members of the Marquette County Road Commission in attendance and participate in this important meeting today,” said Kivela, D-Marquette. “I was very pleased to see the unanimous, bipartisan support of the House Transportation Committee in voting these resolutions out of committee today.”

Tuesday’s joint House and Senate Transportation Committee meeting heard testimony and a detailed presentation by both legislators and the Marquette County Road Commission on HR 13, HCR 1 and SR 9.

“The Commission has to take a stand when it comes to this vital issue,” said Joseph Valente, vice chair of the Marquette County Road Commission. “The safety of our citizens is our number one priority. Since this road opened, there have been two major accidents resulting in critical injuries. Trucks of this size should not be on such a road, and giving them an alternative route will decrease such accidents.”

“County Road 595 is about economic development. We don’t need to go on a trade mission to China or to Poland to drum up business—we can create jobs right here at home,” said Dianda, D-Calumet. “Since the founding of Michigan, industry in the UP has contributed to the state’s coffers and the growth of our nation. Our copper helped electrify the country and Henry Ford logged here to make parts for his Model Ts. We have an abundance of resources that can contribute to problems we are having as a state paying for infrastructure. It’s time to move forward.”

Much of the testimony centered on the environmental and safety aspects related to construction of the road. Nearly 100 semi-trucks and contractor vehicles travel the 120-mile round trip every day from the mine to Humboldt along a route that includes portions of County Road 550 and other local streets. These trucks carry heavy loads through communities and across the campus of Northern Michigan University In fact, the testimony was so compelling that it led one Detroit-area Representative to label the EPA’s actions as “shameful.”

“The EPA’s ruling is arbitrary and unreasonable. I continue to applaud the Road Commission’s decision to appeal the EPA’s action and have the courage to stand up for the constituents we serve as construction of County Road 595 will only foster economic growth as well as increased safety for our Upper Peninsula roadways,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “I am grateful the Road Commission traveled all the way down to Lansing for our committee and think that it proves not only the resolve of the commission on this issue but the significance of this issue to the area and to the UP.”

HR 13 and HCR 1 passed the joint committee unanimously, with a vote expected on SR 9 next week.

Senate approves Casperson, Pavlov bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—The Michigan Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would outlaw the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensure that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Phil Pavlov, were introduced following news articles quoting anti-hunting groups encouraging the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—sometimes called “drones”—to stalk or spy on hunters. In working on the legislation, sportsmen also asked that the bills prohibit the use of UAVs while hunting to comply with what some call “fair chase” policies.

“This measure will help protect the integrity of a tradition that is a way of life for many residents of the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While we want to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, we also want to be certain that those who routinely attack hunting are not able to harass or attack hunters for no reason other than to promote their own anti-hunting agendas.”

Sen. Pavlov said using UAVs in hunting became an issue in Alaska after wildlife officials there learned that a moose was killed by a hunter using such an aircraft. That incident prompted the Alaska Board of Game to unanimously pass a regulation outlawing the practice.

“Hunting with drones would allow hunters to use remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them for sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Several years ago, to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game in Michigan, we passed legislation banning the practice of computer-assisted hunting. These bills will continue that same protection.”

Colorado and Montana recently outlawed the use of UAVs for hunting, while two other states, Idaho and Wisconsin, have existing prohibitions on the use of aircraft to hunt wildlife.

SBs 54 and 55 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Stormy Kromer vest presented to Gov. Snyder by U.P. constituents

LANSING, Mich.—Gov. Rick Snyder received an embroidered vest last month from Denny Olsen (right) of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba (center). Olsen presented the Stormy Kromer vest embroidered with the state’s annual Christmas tree to Snyder on behalf of Gina Jacquart Thorsen, the company’s vice president.

The gift was preceded by Snyder’s visit earlier this year to the Stormy Kromer plant, a prominent outdoor apparel business based in Ironwood.

A print-quality photograph of Snyder receiving his gift is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at: https://www.senatortomcasperson.com/. Click on “Photowire.”