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Indiana's Leaders Must Fight for Clean Water

Jul 20, 2007

Post-Tribune Editorial

When it comes to swaying public opinion over BP's plan to dump more pollution into Lake Michigan, a few numbers pose major stumbling blocks for the oil giant.

They start with the 1,584 additional pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of other waste the company wants to add to its discharge every day.

Following closely is the company's $22.3 billion it made in profit last year alone.

Not least of all is BP's claim that it can't find 12,000 square feet to build the necessary treatment plant on its sprawling 1,400-acre refinery.

There comes a time when Northwest Indiana residents must question why we should risk Lake Michigan's future to enrich the owners of a British company who do not drink our water or bathe along our shores.

And there comes a time when we expect our own elected officials to lead the way.

Watching Chicago's mayor and other Illinois officials call to halt approval of BP's pollution plan is reminiscent of the battle to save Indiana's dunes more than a half-century ago -- a fight led by Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois.

Despite U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's commendable efforts to increase lakefront access with his Marquette Plan, it took a request from a reporter to prompt his public urging to do "everything possible" to reduce lake pollution. His office says he supports a resolution by U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., that calls on Indiana to "reconsider" BP's permit. Such efforts are important, but aren't enough.

It's incumbent upon Visclosky -- as well as Gov. Mitch Daniels, local mayors, legislators and other leaders -- to step up and fight publicly, visibly and without prompting for the Hoosiers who live along these shores.

Yes, BP is bringing welcome economic growth here. But other issues are at stake as well.

Too many people have fought too long and too hard on behalf of our Great Lakes to move backward now.



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