In an bid to distinguish himself as the champion of America's Great Lakes, Illinois Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama last week called for federal hearings on the State of Indiana's recent decision to allow British Petroleum to dramatically increase the amount of pollution the company pumps into Lake Michigan.
"This issue underscores the challenges faced by the United States as we pursue the dual goals of improved energy security and environmental restoration," Senator Obama said in an August 15, 2007 letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee.
The letter doesn't break any ground in terms of fresh thinking about the economic and environmental significance of aggressive action to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water on the planet. But Senator Obama nonetheless becomes the first presidential candidate from either side of the political aisle to publicly address the importance of sustaining the health of the Great Lakes for future generations. It's a start.
And the next day the oil giant aggreed to revisit its plan to dump millions of pounds of additional waste into Lake Michigan every year.