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6th Congressional Republican candidates talk about Kalamazoo River oil spill

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

Republican Congressman Fred Upton and his primary challenger Jack Hoogendyk talked mostly about health care the federal deficit and energy issues during a debate Tuesday afternoon. The two Republicans debated for an hour on WKZO.

Their talking points were about the same but Hoogendyk says he’s more conservative than Upton, who’s been in Congress 25 years now.

They both agree the company responsible for an oil spill in Michigan two years ago should be allowed to build a new oil pipeline that’ll replace the current one going through Michigan.

“I do think they’ve been a very good corporate citizen in owning up to the problem and fixing it,” Hoogendyk said. Upton agreed.

“In fact I dare say that some of the areas along the banks of the river where the spill occurred are as good or better than they were before the spill even happened,” Hoogendyk said.

This week federal regulators proposed issuing Enbridge, the company responsible for the spill, a $3.7 million fine. That would be a record civil penalty.

Enbridge says it’ll cost the company about $700 million to clean up the spill.

Upton says he's willing to work with Democrats to get things done. He pointed to a billhe worked on with longtime Michigan Congressman John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, that creates stricter regulations for oil pipelines. President Obama signed it into law earlier this year.

“Had this legislation been in effect before the pipeline break, we wouldn’t have had it," Upton insisted.

Both men support the company's effort to replace the 43 year old pipelinethrough Michigan.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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