Climate Change: Hoosier Leadership Will Be Tested

Great article in the Guardian about climate change and the tough decisions facing world leaders. Prince Charles recently slammed the food industry for its lack of leadership and now President Obama is moving climate change out of the science labs and into our morality chambers by challenging our leaders to do what is right, not what is profitable.

When facing those decisions, how will Hoosier leaders respond?

The extreme temperature variations the past several years should be proof enough to any Hoosier that climate change is real. At this point, more people understand what dying crops look like after last years drought. This year we can’t even open our community pool in July because the temperature won’t break 70 degrees.

This is while our neighbors in the southwest are literally on fire due to extreme heat with the loss of lives for brave firefighter’s as a consequence. Climate change is real, and it’s a real problem.

Ask Texans and others in the southwest if they are worried about their dwindling water supplies.

We do get it, don’t we?

Then we have Big Oil which sets up conservative sounding nature organizations and hires scientists to write reports saying climate change isn’t real – “it’s a concoction of bleeding heart liberals and eco-terrorists using junk science”. They spend even more money on marketing campaigns spreading “press releases” to newspapers like Gannett which allow them to print as fact. Or, open up their pages to the Indiana Policy Review to push oil and gas legislation and how corporate farms will bring good jobs. Never once mentioning how dirty our state is becoming.

These same billionaire oil barons like the Koch brothers donate millions to universities and “persuade” PhD’s to write “independent research” disputing climate change. Hopefully, less and less people are falling for the propaganda and can detect how the fundraising game is played. Shrinking state budgets for education open the doors for these “billionaire donors” who arrange “gifts” in exchange for “recommendations” or “access to research project talent”.

China is in the market to buy oil and we all need to sacrifice our land, air, ozone and kids futures so these greedy bastards can make even more money to satisfy Wall Street analysts and shareholders who demand 10% rates of return.

With China’s growing infrastructure and their desire to drive Buick’s, the oil industry is licking their chops and wants to participate in the high demand for refined oil and gas. They are trying to convince us that we should drill on pristine land so they can make money. Look what they are doing to Canadian soil for profit. The pictures of the tar sand removal project makes me sick to my stomach.

In Indiana, our Hoosier leadership has been all too cozy and eager to join the pipeline hysteria by offering Northwest Indiana to the Keystone pipeline to remove the dirty tar sand oil while transporting it to St. Louis. What could possibly go wrong?

At the same time, reports are coming from the Chicago Tribune about Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management letting BP continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan from their Whiting plant. After lawyers battled this case in 2007, it appears the pro-business legislators in Indiana have agreed to let BP continue dumping mercury into the lake while they “study technology” and report back in 2015.

According to a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Fund, “If good intentions were enough to improve water quality, we wouldn’t need the Clean Water Act and pollution permits,” said Ann Alexander. “We don’t want a permit that allows BP to just study this technology to death. They need to be using it.”

Ms. Alexander gets it, does Luke Messer?

While Rep. Luke Messer (R) writes anecdotal editorials about drug ridden food stamp users causing his caucus to kill the Farm Bill, we wonder what he thinks about BP dumping mercury into Lake Michigan known to kill fish and cause brain damage in humans. Will Luke take a stand for Hoosier values?

Trust me, this will get worse once completion of BP’s Whiting Refinery is finished this fall so they can process the Canadian tar sands as it heads to St. Louis and eventually to tankers in Texas. Refining tar sand oil is known to cause severe damage to our ozone because of the heat required to remove the oil from the sand.

Will Luke Messer and his republican colleagues in Indiana be able to do the right thing versus the profitable thing? Do they have the courage to stand up against oil industry lobbyists and say, “Not in our fresh water supply…Not on our land!”

They don’t want to give food stamp money to drug users so hopefully they will take a similar stand against polluters of our great state. Will Luke ink another op-ed discussing his party’s value system?

Our sources tell us that current republican leadership in our Hoosier capitol has been bending over backwards appeasing industries like Big Pharm, Big Oil and Big Ag, all well known polluters of our environment. The last report surfacing about “dirty states” tells us that Indiana still ranks near the Top 5 in dirtiest states to live.

The Daniels administration slashed funding to nearly all regulatory agencies and opened the borders to CAFO’s and Big Oil in the name of jobs, but not the type or number of jobs we are looking for in this state. As our representatives huddle in Indianapolis pushing out one piece of ALEC legislation after another, all backed by the Koch brothers and corporate America, Indiana is quickly becoming the dumping ground for Big Industry.

President Obama issued a gut check to leadership in this country, and placed our integrity on the line by asking us how our kids will judge us when they inherit water too contaminated to swim in, let alone drink; air temperature extremes which will keep them and our grandchildren confined in the house. How will we be able to respond to President Obama, “…those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of our children…The question is not whether we need to act.  The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”

So, we ask our elected officials within the Hoosier state, “Can you do the right thing for your neighbors and future generations in Indiana and say no to industry lobbyists and their campaign money, or will you accept the money and let Indiana become a dumping ground for Big Industry?

It’s gut check time, ladies and gentlemen.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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