Friday, August 24, 2007

Two victories!

Two stories in the paper today give even a cynical, often sarcastic political observer like me hope. In the first one, the Coast Guard has agreed not to use live rounds for live fire exercises on the Great Lakes. Instead it will be a kind of laser tag for ships. While I would agree 100% that sailors need to fire their weapons in order to become proficient with them, throwing several tons of lead into freshwater lakes is just not a good idea. The DNR is encouraging and coming up with incentives for us to get rid of our lead sinkers. I would guess that one hour of practice with the deck mounted machine guns that the Coasties use would throw more lead into the lake than all us fisherman could produce in a couple of years. The SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) that No2 son is manning in the photo has a rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute. That would be the equivalent of one hell of a pile of fishing sinkers. Hats off to the Coasties for opting for the common sense approach.

The other story is even more significant. BP (British Petroleum) has backed off on their permit to increase the tonnage of crap that they dump into Lake Michigan. I had ranted about this in a previous post and had almost zero hope that this calamity would be avoided. I was 99% certain that the government wouldn't do anything but study the issue and point fingers. Then, out of the blue BP itself comes through with a voluntary pledge to meet its pollution limits once it completes its expansion. Apparently, after aggressively promoting themselves as an environmentally friendly company, they decided to actually walk the walk. 100,000 signatures on petitions didn't hurt either. In both cases, public opinion helped sway the powers that be in both the Coast Guard and British Petroleum to make the correct decision in regard to keeping the Great Lakes clean. We need to applaud them both as well as keep up the pressure and vigilance when government and industry try to slide this sort of thing through the system.

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