The dearth of smokestack industries in Monroe and surrounding counties may lead the uninitiated to conclude that there's just not much industrial pollution around here. Our reasonably clear skies, scenic wooded hills, and tranquil creeks and streams do convey a sense of environmental solemnity. It follows that natural resource protection - green space, state and federal forests, Lake Monroe, I-69 - would get the most of our eco-attention.
1/ I am sure that you will agree that Little Lick Creek was not a clean and healthy place for Hoosier children to live near or play by in the summer of 2000. Could you please detail the efforts that IDEM has made to remediate contamination in this creek since that time?
2/ What are IDEM's legal obligations under the Clean Water Act and/or other state and federal law to protect the public from contamination cause by combined sewer overflows in the 106 communities that have them?
Back in the summer of 2000, some of the Water folks at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management were ecstatic over the shiny new white van parked behind their North Shadeland Street offices in Indianapolis. As scientists in IDEM's Office of Water Management, part of their job was testing for and dealing with the health threats from billions of gallons of untreated waste that flow through Indiana rivers and streams each year. This van meant that, in at least one small slice of their awesome responsibilities, the scientists could do their jobs right, for a change.
To say the environmental professionals in Water were being asked to perform their duties with both hands tied between their legs would be understatement in the extreme. Like technical staff in Air and Land and Pollution Prevention, not to mention Legal and every other IDEM department, the folks in Water are simply unable to do their jobs. They have never been given the resources needed to fulfill their obligations under Indiana's environmental laws.
Bloomington citizens last week were served up some sobering reminders of how difficult it will be to wrest power from those who are hell-bent on converting our bucolic little college town into a piss stop on the NAFTA Highway.
First, Herald-Times reporter Kurt Van der Dussen wrote an eye-opening series of stories exposing the money behind the candidates on last year's ballot. The inescapable conclusion is that there is no limit to what our community's real-estate-development machine will spend to keep citizens away from power.
Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) officials prominently declare their mission in the agency's Web site header: "Making Indiana a cleaner, healthier place to live … " That's been IDEM's mantra, routinely expressed in written and spoken proclamations since the days of Evan Bayh, before Frank O'Bannon took office in January 1997.
The environment, Gov. O'Bannon has repeatedly reassured the citizens of Indiana, is a top priority. "As we approach the millennium and Indiana's 200th birthday in 2016, our efforts to improve and protect Indiana's natural environment should remain a primary focus," the governor said in IDEM's 1999 State of the Environment Report.
Below is Indiana Department of Envioronmental Management Commissioner Lori Kaplan's response to the Alternative's request for cooperation on the project "Indiana: A Clean and healthy place to live? - The Bayh-O'Bannon environmental legacy."
January 17, 2003
Congratulations on creating a new way for Hoosiers to learn about Indiana's environmental history, challenges and accomplishments! This is a wonderful opportunity for thoughtful discussion and open dialogue among those who want to help make a positive difference in Indiana.
The Bloomington Alternative launched a new online environmental journalism project this week called "Indiana: A clean and healthy place to live?" This long-term, in-depth series will explore the environmental legacy of Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon.
The project began on Wednesday with the following letter to Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Lori Kaplan, who has agreed to cooperate. The series introduction will appear in Sunday's edition.
So much to say, so little time and space. Let's start with the positive because, believe it or not, the good news on I-69 continues to dwarf the bad, Frank O'Bannon's announcement last Thursday notwithstanding.
That the governor made the exact wrong choice, not to mention a political miscalculation of historic proportions, was to be expected. His decision to squander $2 billion of Indiana highway funds on a new-terrain I-69 was the inevitable result of the unvarnished, mean-spirited, pork-barrel politics practiced by Bayh-O'Bannon Democrats over the past 12 years.
With the first whiffs of a bad wind blowing out of Indianapolis on Tuesday, Bloomington City Councilman Andy Ruff is calling upon the Bloomington community leaders to send a message to Gov. Frank O'Bannon that this community does not want Interstate 69.
Ruff says the governor deflected a request from Terre Haute Mayor Judy Anderson on Tuesday for a personal meeting on I-69. Anderson, who along with the Terre Haute City Council are on record in support of the 41-70 route, wanted to make her case personally with the governor.
The Bloomington Alternative on Monday sent the following letter to Gov. Frank O'Bannon's press secretary requesting an interview with the governor prior to his announcing a decision on Interstate 69.
To: Mary Dieter, Gov. O'Bannon press secretary
As editor of The Bloomington Alternative I would like to request an opportunity to interview Gov. O'Bannon before he makes a final decision on Interstate 69. I think it is fair to say that every Alternative reader has a direct stake in the governor's decision. Some literally have their homes and/or their livelihoods on the line. I believe they deserve to hear directly from the man who holds their fate in his hands.