The headline this week from EPA read, "Triad Mining agrees to resolve Clean Water Act violations and restore affected waterways in Indiana." The press release told of violations of the Clean Water Act by a mining company that had operated in Indiana for years without much oversight. Finally EPA was stepping in because the state agencies that EPA had authorized to regulate such things had failed to do so.
Like so many other enforcement actions that EPA or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertake in Indiana leave one to ask, "where was IDEM and DNR while this was going on?"
Sadly, we almost all know the answer, and that is that Indiana is a state where nearly anything goes.
"The time has come to quit deferring and start making waves."In this instance, nearly 10 miles of Hoosier streams were impacted while IDEM (It Doesn't Even Matter -- thanks Dixie) and DNR (Department of No Response) showed the same concern they've had since the administration of Evan Bayh and refused to intervene as this state's already nefarious ecosystems suffered yet another assault that will likely never be really corrected or restored to its rightful condition.
That is why Indiana is found at the bottom (or top) of lists that speak to environmental or health conditions like the 2007 Forbes Magazine piece.
In Southwest Indiana we are cursed with coal. We dig it from the ground using dynamite and giant machines, we then we burn it in giant power plants that export most of their electrons to places far remote from this region and we dispose of its voluminous quantities of toxic waste which leaves behind a legacy of filth that will last for centuries to come.
Why this is allowed is kind of murky. Much of it is due to the docile population that resides in these parts, a population that refuses to stand up to either government or big corporate entities, a population that seemingly lives in fear of challenging any sort of powerful interests.
Another reason is that we have never been treated properly by either state or federal governments, a situation that 1976 candidate for governor Larry Conrad called the "forgotten" part of the state.
In 1990, an organization called Franklin Associates did a survey that dealt mainly with where companies sought to build landfills found that there were two main demographics involved: German and Catholic, two demographics that dominate the political scene in Southwest Indiana that both preach deference to higher authority and are told not to make waves.
Frankly, the time has come to quit deferring and start making waves. If we don't do that soon, we are all too likely to find ourselves incapable of ever challenging our corporate masters and find ourselves forever being emasculated and weak.
John Blair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.