Detroit - The U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to periodically close 2,500 square miles of the Great Lakes for live machine-gun firing exercises is vital to maintaining its ability to protect the nation’s security, commanders said Tuesday.
A number of Canadian and U.S. mayors, as well as business leaders and environmentalists, have criticized the proposal, saying it could be unsafe, disruptive and unnecessary.
The Coast Guard says it has safely conducted live-fire tests in the nation’s coastal waters for years. The test zones and schedules are designed to have minimal effect on the environment and Great Lakes boat traffic, it says.
Live fire practice is an essential part of weapons training, the head of the Coast Guard’s Detroit region told reporters Tuesday.
“We need to train in the environment in which we are going to fire the weapons,” Capt. Patrick W. Brennan said from a conference room that overlooks the Detroit River and neighboring Windsor, Ontario.
Coast Guard commanders are holding media briefings in advance of seven public hearings that begin Monday in Duluth, Minn., and end Nov. 3 in Charlevoix, Mich. A public comment period extends through Nov. 13.
The training zone proposal follows the Coast Guard’s decision to mount automatic weapons on about 150 Great Lakes vessels as it did earlier with vessels on the East, West and Gulf coasts, Brennan said.
Each of the 34 “safety zones” on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario would be closed to private vessels for four-hour spans about four to eight times a year, he said.
Yup. If you don't support destroying a large fresh water resource, you are buying into that terrorist propaganda.