Monday, August 27, 2007

Court Action May Bar BP's Pollution Plans For Lake Michigan

While British Petroleum has backed off its permitted allowance for more pollution from its northern Indiana refinery on Lake Michigan, an environmental group, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, is pursuing the matter in court to make BP's voluntary action permanent.

This assertive and principled opposition to adding more toxins to the Great Lakes is in the true spirit of the region's collective water ownership, enshrined in the Public Trust Doctrine that is a permanent part of the Wisconsin Constitution.

Handed down from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Public Trust Doctrine is part of the region's good government definition, and of natural resource protection heritage, too.

All of which makes the State of Wisconsin's official silence on the BP issue, broken last week by a shrug of the shoulders over the entire matter by a senior Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official all the more shocking.

If the DNR is allowed to morph into an arm of the Department of Commerce, we're headed for years more environmental disappointments in the state, with the Public Trust Doctrine becoming little more than an historical footnote.

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