04.01.16

Lapeer County Press: Sen. Gary Peters addresses Econ Club

Discusses automotive industry, Flint water crisis

ELBA TWP. — As U.S. Sen. Gary Peters began his speech to the Economic Club of Lapeer County on Tuesday, the sun was shining brightly outside the windows of the Lapeer Country Club, giving off the illusion that it was warmer than the actual temperature outdoors.

Peters alluded to the scenery, and commented about DTE Energy choosing this county for its largest solar array east of the Mississippi, “That tells me the sun is always shining in Lapeer County.”

He quickly shifted his focus to the automotive industry in Michigan, and his desire to keep this state as the front-runner when it comes to vehicles, not just in production, but new technology as well. Peters described a recent experience during which he had the opportunity to ride in a Google Self-Driving Car, which he described as “unsettling.”

“It’s a little freaky to ride on a California freeway, let alone in a Google car,” he said.

He’s also had the chance to ride in a driver assisted vehicle in the Pontiac area, and said these types of technology will start to be available in higher-end cars during the next model year.

Michigan does well in the “torque and horsepower” end of things, he said, but as a state we need to be on the cusp of the technological advancements as well.

“We want to make sure we are at the center of it,” he said.

The University of Michigan is a world leader in some of this up-and-coming technology, he said, and what he’d like to see happen is to have the Willow Run manufacturing complex transformed into a national test center for communicating and autonomous vehicles.

“I will say we are competing with California,” he said. “Google has an advanced track out there and people are starting to go there.”

A couple things Michigan has, however, that California doesn’t are snow and ice, Peters said.

“I also said we have some potholes,” he added. “That would be helpful too.”

A transformation of that sort, he said, would have incredible job-producing potential as well.

Peters then switched gears from cars to the Flint water crisis, and the bipartisan coalition he is a part of with Sen. Debbie Stabenow. They’re working to find federal resources to help Flint, as well as working on a bill to improve the water infrastructure all over, not just in Flint.

“The people of Flint can’t keep living on bottled water,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”

Assistance could include low-interest loans for water infrastructure improvements, public health funds for lead abatement, and emergency funding for communities with an emergency declaration.

“The Flint problem is an indicator of problems all over the country,” he said.

During the question and-answer period, Peters touched upon such topics as the federal deficit, the solution for which he likened to a three-legged stool.

“If you don’t use all three legs, it’s not going to work,” Peters said.

Those three legs, he said, are economic growth, cutting spending and increasing revenue.

“Most people I talk to only want to do two of those things,” he said. “You have to do all three.”

Other topics included the vetting process for refugees coming into the United States and the Supreme Court vacancy after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

 


By:  KRYSTAL JOHNS
Source: Lapeer County-Press