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August 06, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-08-06

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4 - He ichigan Daiy - Monday, August 6, 2001
Edited and managed by
University of Michigan + + Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
420 Mlanard Street Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
majority o the Dailys editorial boad. All o her artics, letters
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons donot necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Pickerel Lake - the peaceful,
pond-sized refuge in nearby Dex-
ter - may soon be home to more
than nature lovers; the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources plans
to 'improve" the 23-acre lake and its
surrounding area by building a boat
launch on its small sandy slope.
The lake is unusually deep for its
size, which - according to the DNR -
makes it especially good for trout fish-
ing; the DN R says the launch will bene-
fit local fishermen. Unfortunately, the
boat launch will do more than make this
area accessible to trout-seeking anglers;
it will disrupt the atmosphere at the
lake and possibly harm the area's deli-
cate ecosy stem.
The plan ca s for gravel to be added
to the small "beach" and to the nearby
dirt parking lot.
A group of about 300 dissentients -
swimmers, picnickers, kayakers and
other lake-lovers - has been the DNR's
most vocal opponent. Calling them-
selves Friends of Pickerel Lake, mem-
bers of the group point out that a new
ramp will appeal to more than just fish-

DNR should not allow motorboats at lake

ermen. Where there are boat launches, The DNR currently manages only
there are often high-speed watercraft. one lake in all of Washtenaw County -
Additionally, motor- Mill Lake in Water-
ized vehicles bring HELP REEP MOTORIZEDCRAFT OUT loo Recreation Area
noise pollution as OF PICKEREL LAKE. - where motorized
well as air and pos- watercraft use is
sibly water pollu- restricted. That
tion. To VOICE CONCERNS, CONTAC'I translates into 163
The marshy area out of 6054 water
and woods sur- RoNEY STOKES acres devoted to
rounding the lake DIRECTOR OF "passive recre-
also deserve the PARKS AND RECREATION ation." Friends of
DNR's protection. Pickerel Lake say
As huge department MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF that space must be
stores an malls NATURAL RESOURCEs set aside for bird-
continue to pop up watchers, sun-
in formerly serene P0 BOX 30257 bathers and others
areas across the LANSING, M1 48909,7757 whose presence will
country, it is our not include chemi-
responsibility to preserve our local nat- cal pollutants.
ural treasures. The parks bureau maintains that

Pickerel Lake is maintained with
marine fuel revenue, funding that's only
supposed to go to areas with boating
access. But Pickerel Lake does have a.
small wooden pierused by canoersan
kayakers; these vessels are no less
"boats" than their large, pollutant-spw
ing counterparts.
Bringing more traffic to the Pickerel
Lake area would do far more harm than
good. It would wreck what little beach
there is, leaving little room for families
on picnics and bring unwelcome noise.
Also, it would endanger the rich, valu-
able wetlands around the lake.
If the DNR won't speak up in the
lake's defense, responsibility falls to
private citizens who don't want to see
their lake ruined. Washtenaw County
residents - and anyone else who thin
Pickerel Lake should remain a sae
haven for interesting plants, animals
and visiting people - should join the
Friends of Pickerel Lake in their plight
to preserve the beautiful spot. The DNR
should not be allowed to construct this
boat launch without a fight ... and we
are the last line of defense.

Power to the people
Time is now for election reforms

Off the road
SUV makers should improve fuel economy


n the aftermath of the presidential
election, a leader without a mandate
from the people occupies our nation's
most powerful political office. George W
Bush defeated Al Gore after the Supreme
Court ruled 5-4 and denied the Gore
team's request for a recount- of the votes
in Florida.
Bush's victory became official one
month after the nation cast its vote - an
entire month during which no one knew
who our democratically elected 43rd
president would be. What has happened
since the United States, the bastion of
democracy, botched the most fundamen-
tal aspect of our system of government?
The bipartisan National Commission
on Federal Election Reform publicly
released its recommendations Tuesday for
improving the election system. The com-
mission (headed by former Presidents
Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford) analyzed
the farce of this past presidential election
and devised changes that, if implemented,
would prevent similar debacles from hap-
pening. These recommendations are
intended to restore faith and efficacy in
the nation's democratic system.
Some of the recommendations that
Congress has incorporated into bills
® Allowing state-wide provisional vot-
ing. Voters whose eligibility in a particu-
lar locality is not verifiable, for some
reason or another, would be given provi-
sional ballots instead of being turned
away. Their eligibility would then be con-
firmed or denied based on more in-depth
* Utilizing technology to improve
accessibility. New voting machines that
would those with visual impairments and
those not fluent in En lish to vote.
* Declaring Election Day a national
holiday so that voters will have ample
time to reach polling places.
The voting system is one of the funda-

mental aspects of our democratic system
of government. Implementation of these
recommendations would result in a voting
system that serves as an effective conduit
of the American people's desires.
During the November presidential
election, there were many incidents of eli-
gible voters being turned away from the
polls, particularly in Florida; this must
not continue in the future. Florida also
saw big problems with antiquated voting
technoogy that could have been prevent-
ed. Finally, Americans should not have to
risk choosing between working and vot-
ing; a national voting holiday would ben-
e fit all. Unfortunately, the bill(s) that
would bring about these changes current-
ly sit idle in the legislative process
because of bipartisan bickering.
There are two versions of an election
reform bill currently in the Senate. Both
versions would give the states approxi-
mately $3 billion of federal aid to imple-
ment the needed changes.
The difference between the two bills
centers around the approach used to
implement election reform. On the one
hand, many Democrats prefer federally
mandated reforms so that states would be
obligated to comply. On the other hand,
many Republicans prefer to give states
more leeway and instead advocate a quid-
pro-quo approach that would allocate
money to states only if they voluntarily
implement the changes. Sen. Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.) said of the disagree-
ment, "You get the impression [Democ-
rats] sort of want to stick their thumbs in
President Bush's eye."
Reforms this fundamental to our
democracy should not be framed in politi-
cal bargaining between federal and state
governments. Senator McConnell should
not attribute Democratic preference for
federal mandates to bipartisanship but
should realize how crucial election
reform really is.

The term "energy crisis" - a
favorite amon primetime news
anchors and poltical speechwriters
- does not adequately describe the
energy situation in the United States; it
is a dismissive (if ominous) expression
often used to explain away the United
States' conspicuous consumption. When
Californians face rollin blackouts on
hot days, it's because of the "energy cri-
sis." hen gas prices skyrocket, the
"energy crisis" is invariably responsible.
It's a convenient, non-human, seemingly
inevitable scapegoat. Blaming this i lu-
sive crisis shifts the blame from those
most deserving of it: People.
Think about it: The U.S. Department
of Energy is currently run by a man who
once co-sponsored a bill that would have
abolished it. Consumerism dictates that
bigger is better. Less is never more;
more is more. Although the world's pop-
ulation is only about five percent Ameri-
can, the Bruntland Commission reports
that the United States consumes approxi-
mately thirty percent of the world's
Despite the grim reality, U.S. leaders
are doing little to stop the energy crisis
from becoming the energy disaster; the
U.S. House of Representatives voted 269
to 160 Wednesday not to require sport
utility vehicle manufacturers to signifi-
cantly increase fuel efficiency by 2007.
Just days before the vote, the National
Academy of Sciences released a report
stating that the technology necessary to
reduce automotive fuel use does exist;
furthermore, it suggested that the fuel
economy gap between cars and SUVs
could be significantly narrowed over a
period of several years.
While fuel economy has not improved
for cars or SUVs since peaking in 1986,
SUVs are far less fuel-efficient than reg-
ular cars. The average SUV runs from
10-20 miles per gallon of gas, compared

to the Honda Civic's 38 miles per gallon.
According to the Sierra Club, 'switching
from an average new car to a 13-mpg
SUV for a year would waste more ener-
gy than leaving a refrigerator door open
for six years, a bathroom light burning
for 30 years or a color TV turned on for
28 years." Because they demand s
much more fuel than cars, SUVs are ter-
rible for the environment; the gasoline
the burn is a limited natural resource
and their CO2 emissions contribute to
global warming.
In addition to being notorious gas-
guzzlers, SUVs have a so proven to be
quite unsafe; SUV drivers and other
motorists alike have been harmed by
these hazardous vehicles. The Sierra
Club reports that "an average SUV o
pickup is more than twice as likely as a
car to kill the driver of the other vehicle
in a collision and an SUV is four times
as likely to roll over in an accident."
Furthermore, government regulations
do not require auto manufacturers to out-
fit SUVs with bumpers of quality com-
parable to those on normal cars; these
weak bumpers have often been the big
losers in low-speed crash tests. The
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
conducted a series of such tests earlier
this summer with very unflatterin
results. In five m.p .h. rear collision tests,
the Suzuki Grand Vitara racked up about
$5800 in damages.
Although improving SUV fuel
economies would be costly for automak-
ers, government regulations should
require them to do so; they can retain
their profit margins by increasing the
cost of each vehicle. If SUV drivers are
willing to risk their personal safety, the
safety of others and the environmental
well-being of the planet just to be able to
see over the other cars in heavy traffic,
it's only fair that they pick up at least
part of the tab.

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