Okay – what were those governors thinking? Or whoever it was that was responsible for selecting a chair for the Great Lakes Compact regional council? Mitch Daniels as the chair is the classic fox guarding the chicken coop. And for those who aren’t quite sure what that means, let me explain.
Letting the “fox” guard the “chicken coop” is akin to putting a person in charge of a task wherein that person has an adverse interest and will be in a position to exploit the situation. Of course the irony is that the fox would rather eat the chickens than protect them. We usually think of this idiom when it comes to administrative agencies, which are typically considered to be loaded with foxes guarding the chicken coops in their particular areas of expertise.
Mitch Daniels as the chair of the Great Lakes Regional Council is certainly a step in the wrong direction. After a decade-long struggle to accomplish an agreement to protect the Great Lakes from diversions of large quantities of water, we don’t need to set the progress backwards.
The Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – and their connecting channels form the largest fresh surface water system on earth. The Lakes cover more than 94,000 square miles and drain more than twice as much land. These Freshwater Seas hold an estimated 6 quadrillion gallons of water, about 20% of the world’s fresh surface water supply and about 90% of the U.S. supply. Spread evenly across the contiguous 48 states, the lakes’ water would be about 9.5 feet deep.
The Great Lakes Compact generally bars large-scale, long-distance withdrawals from the lakes. But a loophole in the bill waives the diversion ban for any container less than 5.7 gallons. That means that the bottled water industry is off the hook. The possibility for exploitation of this loophole is enormous, and with someone with Daniels’ view of using the environment for gain and profit, that exploitation looms on the horizon.
Our Midwest environment is simply too important to entrust someone with Daniels’ view of the environment with such a position.
Photo Credit: Great-Lakes.net
If you recall, Daniels wants to turn Indiana into one large Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). His “Possibilities Unbound” plan of 2005 clearly states his goal of doubling hog production within a few years. His goal of doubling hog production has led to hundreds of CAFOs popping up all over the state, primarily in the east central portion and, more recently, in our region.
CAFOs damage the environment whether it be the air, water, or land. Yet Daniels supports them as a way of implementing what he calls newer technologies such as cramming thousands of animals into buildings where they barely have room to turn around. It also means dumping thousands of tons of manure on land with that manure contaminating rivers and underground sources of water. It also means fouling the air for miles surrounding the CAFOs.
Here is the Daniels’ plan for CAFOing Indiana:
Double hog production while increasing pork processing capacity in the state.
- Total hog and pig production is up 8 percent from 2005.
- The swine breeding herd increased by 14 percent in 2006.
- In 2006, permits for confined feeding operations increased by 8.5 percent.
But that is not all Daniels wants to do to Indiana’s environment. Daniels has a plan to “manage” our Indiana forests – in other words to increase timber cutting. This can also be found in his “Possibilities Unbound” plan.
And how will much of this be accomplished? Why, by discouraging regulations or, at the very least, backing off on enforcement. Daniels slyly calls this “working closely with the State’s regulatory agencies to ensure science-based standards are considered in agricultural matters and do not impede economic development. All regulations impede, to some degree, economic development. So what does he really mean by “not impeding economic development?”
And the real irony? Daniels fought to enable the BP refinery in Whiting to increase its pollution of Lake Michigan. With Daniels’ record on the environment – really – what were they thinking?
The Great Lakes from space – Photo Credit: Environment News Service