EDITORIAL: Great Lakes shouldn’t become anyone’s cesspoolA summit having regional repercussions today is addressing the delicate balance between industry and the environment.
A summit having regional repercussions today is addressing the delicate balance between industry and the environment.
Representatives of the BP petroleum refinery in Whiting, Ind., and Environmental Protection Agency officials from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan will attend the Lake Michigan Summit in Chicago to discuss the plant’s toxic chemical discharges. Environmentalists say BP seeks to increase its daily output to 1,500 pounds of ammonia and 5,000 pounds of toxins. Indiana regulators have agreed to those amounts and to issue BP a new discharge permit.
Oil these days is comparable to liquid gold. But there’s one thing even more valuable: water. Most people prefer theirs to be free of ammonia and other nasty stuff that kills living things. Industry has long made the argument that dilution is the solution to pollution — in other words, that water bodies as large as Lake Michigan can overpower toxins and render them inert. That might be the case for awhile, but common sense suggests that even a Brawny towel eventually gets saturated.
One thing is clear. BP has the financial resources to clean up the mess it leaves behind. Last year, it reported $22 billion in profits. With that kind of money, BP can afford to ship pollutants all the way back to company headquarters in London. That would be a better place than Lake Michigan.
Obviously, we can’t afford to turn our back on jobs and industry. But no intelligent being fouls its own nest, and increasingly, that’s been happening in the Great Lakes basin. We possess the world’s largest freshwater reserve. It deserves greater protection.
The United States has the ability to move in another direction, to develop alternative energy resources that don’t destroy the environment.
It won’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t justify declaring open season on public’s water supply.
The Great Lakes should not be an industrial dumping ground. EPA should refuse to allow more toxic dumping by BP and other companies.