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Sen. Peters visits Esky, talks issues

ESCANABA — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., visited Engineered Machined Products (EMP) in Escanaba during his fourth annual motorcycle tour across Michigan Tuesday.

While visiting EMP, Peters took a brief tour of the business’ advanced products building. There, he had an opportunity to see some of the products worked on at the facility, including electric cooling systems, electric water pumps, electric fans and electric oil pumps.

“It’s great to be here at EMP — this is really a cutting-edge company that represents the best of manufacturing not just here in Michigan, but really across the country and the world,” Peters said.

During his visit, Peters was given a demonstration of the robot used by the Escanaba Robomos in their 2019 season by members of the robotics team. He also had an opportunity to take control of the robot himself.

Escanaba Robomos Builder Annie Kluka — daughter of Robomos coach Gabe Kluka, who works as EMP’s maintenance manager — said she enjoyed meeting Peters.

“It was amazing. I was really nervous at first, but then he was very kind,” she said.

Her father was glad to welcome Peters to his workplace.

“It’s actually a nice honor. It’s important that we interact with people outside of Escanaba, especially the politicians in Washington,” Gabe said.

After his tour, Peters met with members of the local media. Many of the topics he touched on at this time dealt with business and manufacturing — including his proposal to establish a National Institute of Manufacturing, which would bring all of the federal government’s programs dealing with manufacturing under one umbrella.

“We have 58 programs spread out across 11 agencies — it’s not coordinated, it’s wasteful of taxpayer money and it’s not focused on what we have to do as to make sure the United States continues to be the leader in manufacturing,” he said.

The proposal was inspired by the National Institutes of Health.

Peters also spoke about the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

“I am concerned about some of the policies we’ve seen from the Trump administration right now that have not been focused and may lead us into a broader trade war and may have some negative impact, particularly on auto suppliers and some of our manufacturing here,” he said.

However, he said it is important for the United States to “be tough” when dealing with violations of fair trade rules, as well.

Peters went on to address other current issues, including the controversy surrounding the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. He noted he recently released a video showing the full extent of damage done to the pipeline by an anchor strike earlier this year.

“We were told by the company that it was a dent, and once we got eyes on it, it turned out it wasn’t a dent — it was a gouge. That’s kind of a nightmare scenario when it comes to an oil pipeline in the Great Lakes,” he said.

According to Peters, he also has concerns regarding Enbridge’s proposed construction of a tunnel to replace the current pipeline. He said he has heard from Enbridge the tunnel may take years to complete.

“I want to make sure that, if that is indeed the course of action that’s taken, that it’s a hard timeline and they actually get that tunnel built,” he said.

Mass shootings, such as those that occurred in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, last weekend, were another topic of discussion Tuesday.

“I’m a gun owner — I believe in the Second Amendment — but I also do believe that there’s some common-sense things we can do, and that’s why I support comprehensive background checks,” Peters said.

In response to a question on House Democrats’ growing support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Peters said he is not yet directly involved with this topic.

“We won’t be doing things unless the House sends (them) over to us,” he said.

Peters’ motorcycle tour is set to continue with a stop at the Ishpeming Senior Citizens Center today. The five-day tour also includes stops in Detroit, Flint, Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Grand Ledge.

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