Seemingly everyone with a pulse has something to say about the State of Indiana's questionable decision to permit BP to dump some 1,500 pounds of ammonia and nearly 5,000 pounds of solid waste every day into Lake Michigan.
Everyone, that is, except Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Five days after the Chicago Tribune blew the story wide open the governor has yet to respond. Meanwhile, a growing coalition of Great Lakes leaders are trying to understand how the region balances its economic and environmental goals.
State Representative Scott Pelath, a Democrat from Michigan City in Northeast Indiana, yesterday called for an investigation into the decision to allow the dramatic increase in water pollution.
US Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, fired one letter off to BP CEO Tony Hayward urging the company to reconsider its risky position; and another letter off to Ben Grumbles, a top water cop at the US Environmental Protection Agency, asking a lengthy list of questions, such as, what is the cumulative environmental effect of dumping an additional 578,160 pounds per year of ammonia into the Big Lake?
Sen. Durbin, in fact, is part of a large bipartisan group of federal elected officials that have joined forces to urge federal regulators to block the state permit.
"We need to embarrass the BP leadership to do the right thing," said US Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois. "In my book, BP, which tries to market itself as an environmentally friendly company, now stands for 'Bad Pollution.'"
The City of Chicago, led by Mayor Richard Daley, one of the more vocal advocates for boosting Great Lakes stewardship, has hired a consultant to review the whole deal.
And scientists, mayors, and windsurfers as far away as Grand Rapids, MI are speaking out on the issue.
But not Gov. Mitch Daniels. As the controversy swirls, the governor has yet to issue a public statement. And apparently he's said very little on the matter since September 2006, when he praised the $3+ billion project for generating 2,500 temporary construction jobs and 80 permament jobs.
“We appreciate BP’s choice of Indiana for this massive, landmark project," the governor said. "In capital investment this is the largest we’ve had, and more construction workers will be hired for this project than to build the new Indiana Stadium and Convention Center.”
“The eyes of the whole state are on Northwest Indiana, as they should be" he added. "This marks another huge step in Indiana’s economic comeback.”
Indeed, the eyes of the entire greater Great Lakes region are now on Indiana. And Indiana is speechless.