Editor’s note: Several people have pointed out that the article linked to (below) is from 2007; an important point which I somehow overlooked when drafting this post. I understand that public backlash at the time ultimately may have quashed this exemption. With either of these relevant facts in mind, some of the conclusions drawn below (particularly those related to the timeliness of this “exemption” [which I mistakenly thought to be far more current] and the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster) are no longer appropriate. I believe the core argument remains essentially unsullied by this unfortunate oversight and for this reason, I have left the body of this post unaltered from its original published form.
Yesterday I read that Indiana has granted BP an exemption to anti-pollution laws, which will allow them to dump significantly more pollutants in to Lake Michigan.
Already one of the largest polluters along the Great Lakes, [BP] can release 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more sludge into Lake Michigan each day. Ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish, while sludge is full of concentrated heavy metals.
The EPA and other federal officials, whose are ostensibly responsible for “protecting” the environment, have not objected, despite the fact that regulators admit that they are “unsure about the ecological effects of the relatively new refining process BP plans to use.” Note that “heavy metals” is sanitized language for refining byproducts, known poisons like lead and vanadium, and ammonia is known to cause problems in water ecosystems.
My brother chimed in on FB yesterday, “Nothing like not knowing what you’re doing, but pushing ahead anyway.” Indeed. Not knowing what you’re doing is akin to not know what are the risks and probability of failure, and potential consequences. Which is another way of saying: things could turn out to be way worse than anyone perceives, because nobody knows what the true risk is. Does the Deepwater Horizon ring a bell?
On that note, new reports indicate that Deepwater Horizon has been spewing far more than the government and BP were previously willing to admit, although I find it extremely hard to believe that they didn’t know the approximate spillage. After all, the State is Big Business, and Big Business is the State. Neither party is looking out for you or yours.
The oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is even worse than previously thought, with twice as much oil spewing into the ocean than earlier estimations suggested … Most experts believe there is more oil gushing into the sea in an hour than officials originally said was spilling in an entire day … The new figures mean Deepwater Horizon is producing an Exxon Valdez-size spill every five to 13 days. — BP Oil Spill Estimates Double (The Guardian, UK)
This is outrageous to begin with, but even moreso in light of the Deepwater Horizon shenanigans. Then again, it’s par for the course: this is your government, selling you out to the highest bidder. Again.
Tangentially, it was an environmental activist with an armful of pamphlets and a petition about pollution in the Great Lakes which prompted me over two years ago to declare that governments are the greatest threat to the environment, they actively subvert grassroots movements that would preserve ecosystems and actively subsidize, tolerate, or permit evil corporations like British Petroleum to destroy the environment.