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The energy to oppose

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Last week, the nonprofit Public Interest Research Group In Michigan (PIRGIM) sent out e-mails urging the state’s environmentalists to contact Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and implore them to oppose the Bush administration’s energy bill.

According to PIRGIM spokeswoman Megan Owens, the two Democratic senators were fence-sitting. The D.C. rumor mill had our senators on a shortlist of Dems being targeted by the GOP in their search for the votes needed to kill the filibuster that was effectively stalling the legislation.

But Debbie and Carl held firm. With the aid of six Republicans who jumped ship, Dems were able to keep the bill from going forward.

Among the more odious provisions in the bill, according to PIRGIM, were those that would let polluters “off the hook for cleanup of contaminated groundwater sites” and policies that would make it easier for new nuclear power plants to start sprouting.

Another Michigan homeboy, Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), minced no word in applauding the resistance.

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the Senate — on a broadly bipartisan basis — put the brakes on this slop-fed porcine product. It’s time to muck out the pen.”

As of Monday, it was unclear what would happen next. According to Owens, the Republican majority was offering a load of lard to any senator who would cross over (only two votes were needed to move the bill). But, last we heard, the promise of pork was failing to entice. Even so, environmentalists know the fight isn’t over.

“We expect over the coming weeks that the oil, coal and nuclear industry lobbyists will be twisting Senator Levin’s and Stabenow’s arms, and we urge them to continue to stand strong for the public interest,” PIRGIM announced in a press release.

Along with pride in its role in opposing this legislation, Michigan has more than its share of chagrin to bear. After all, none other than our own Spence Abraham, himself a former senator who voters booted from office during the last electoral go-round, had the pains of his defeat thoughtfully salved when George Bush made him secretary of energy.

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