News release: Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest
In a potentially major setback for INDOT, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally objected to INDOT's draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the I-69 highway project.
John Moore, attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), said that "INDOT is caught between the rock of common sense and the hard place of the law. EPA's comments show that the law requires INDOT to choose Alternative 1 - the I-70/US 41 route - because it both meets the project's core goals and it would cause far less environmental damage, especially to aquatic resources, than INDOT's preferred new-terrain routes."
On August 18, I was laying on my couch, mindlessly dozing in front of a Sunday afternoon TV movie when two neighbors arrived with a map showing my house on two of the newly announced routes for I-69.
The state's I-69 consultant - one of Indiana Democrats' biggest campaign contributors - received $28 million in state contracts under the Bayh-O'Bannon-Kernan administrations, according to documents obtained by The Bloomington Alternative under the Freedom of Information Act.
Documents produced by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) show that Democrats awarded Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates 23 contracts between March 1989 and February 2002. Contract amounts averaged $1.2 million, ranging from $25,000 to more than $9 million.
Hundreds of Southwest Indiana residents will join in the biggest motorcade in the region's history next Sunday for a massive but peaceful protest against the proposed new terrain Interstate 69 highway.
The Indiana Department of Transportation responded to The Bloomington Alternative's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents on the state's I-69 consultant with what appears to be a partial response.
With all the attention that has understandably been focused on the devastation that the proposed new-terrain I-69 highway will wreak upon thousands of acres of farm and forest land in its path, another, equally dramatic impact has been lost in the outrage.
One evening recently, I sat down with pen and paper to list all the great ways Gov. Frank O'Bannon has made Indiana a cleaner, healthier place to live. The next morning, still at my desk, I awakened slumped over a blank sheet of paper.
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner J. Bryan Nicol verbally confirmed again last week what his agency and state Democrats have implied through their actions the past 12 years: Democracy and responsible government have no place in Indiana or in the state's Democratic Party.
Nothing is more gratifying for a small-d democrat than witnessing the sort of massive outpouring of citizens telling their government what they want and why they want it, as happened in Terre Haute, Bloomington and Evansville last week at the I-69 public "hearings." That was democracy at its best.
For more than a decade now, citizens from all walks of Southwestern Indiana life have looked state Democrats in the eye and said, "If you persist in destroying our environment and the communities we love through your I-69 payoff to your political pals in Evansville, we will make you pay."