During these difficult economic times there are many losers, including our land, water, air, biology and the local population. This is especially amplified by the more than 40-years since the Industry’s fortunes where coupled with those of the community’s. The results of this decoupling can be horribly seen in the our cultural landscape of existing conditions,
This is what I see when I look at existing conditions and opportunities along the southern shores of Lake Michigan here in East Chicago. Below you will find someone else’s vision which is limited to reindustrialize our lakefront.
- A Gated Industrial Community
- Arguably the most polluted waters in the country - the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC)
- Joerse Beach: most contaminated beach in the Great Lakes and third most in the country.
- Arguably the most polluted air-shed in the country - Lake county indiana ranking as the 9th most polluted air-shed in the country with the sources of pollution concentrated on East Chicago’s lakefront
- >80% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated to heavy industry - ~50 of these industrial lands are out of productive use and considered contaminated, e.g., brownfields
- 14% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated Residential - ~17% of these residential properties are apart of a superfund site.
- Immediate access to the world’s greatest freshwater resource
- Adjacent to Chicago
- Diversified land-use and therefore a diversified water-use, air-shed use resulting in a diversified regional economy
In contrast this is what Bill Nagel of the NWI Times, the Forum, Nirpc, and to a real degree many of our environmental groups, such as Save the Dunes, Lee Botts founder of the Lake Michigan Federation, are promoting.
< How dare I include prominent environmentalist as obstacles to environmental, and economic progress>
via [ NWI Times ]
“Blast furnace restart could jump-start 750 jobs - MARKET DEMAND PROMPTS MITTAL TO FIRE UP INDIANA HARBOR WORKS NO. 4 FURNACE” by
via [ Post-Trib ] by Gitte Laasby
DNA from Asian carp has been detected in Lake Michigan for the first time — but it’s still not certain whether the fish themselves have entered the lake, a federal official said Tuesday.
Major Gen. John Peabody of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that two pathways for the carp to reach Lake Michigan are the Grand Calumet River and the Little Calumet River, which might be sampled next.
“We have not sampled in that area, but we will take a look at that,” Peabody said. “Both of those waterways are possible vectors for the migration or the travel of Asian carp or other species between the lake and the Chicago-area waterway system.”
Peabody said federal officials will confer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on where water samples should be collected next. A plan should be ready in a month or two.
One sample of genetic material from the invasive carp was found Dec. 8 in Calumet Harbor, which is part of Lake Michigan. Federal officials insisted that does not mean carp have actually reached the lake.
“Our current eDNA process provides indications of likely presence, but it does not yet provide information about Asian carp quantity that may be present, age, size, how they got there or how long they may have been there,” said David Lodge, director of the eDNA project at the University of Notre Dame.
Peabody said no live or dead fish have been spotted in Lake Michigan but that agencies will use netting and other tactics to search for stronger evidence.
The university processes 40 samples a week and has a backlog of 440 samples from the region, he said.
But the Army Corps still doesn’t intend to close the locks and gates that form the final barrier between waterways near Chicago and the lake, he said.
The Supreme Court had refused earlier Tuesday to order the immediate closure of two shipping locks — Navy Pier and O’Brien south of downtown Chicago — to prevent Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.
Scientists fear if carp reach the Great Lakes, they could disrupt the food chain and endanger the $7 billion fishery.
Asian carp can grow 4 feet long and weigh 100 pounds while consuming up to 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton — the foundation of the Great Lakes food web. Scientists have said the carp, which have no predators, could starve out sport fish, such as trout and salmon.
The carp are spooked by passing motors and often hurtle from the water, colliding with boaters forcefully enough to break bones.
The court rejected Michigan’s request to shut the locks and gates temporarily while officials and interest groups debate a long-term strategy. Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin filed briefs supporting Michigan.
The Obama administration opposes closing the locks, saying such action could cause flooding in Chicago and would disrupt the transportation of coal and other commodities on waterways linking Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River system.
Asian carp have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades. Federal officials said they weren’t sure how the carp may have come so close to Lake Michigan.
Biologists have speculated that carp might have slipped through the electric barriers when the Army Corps turned off power to them for about a week in October 2008 to do maintenance. Another theory is that the barriers may not have been strong enough, or turned up enough, to fend off younger fish.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Alliance for the Great Lakes response
via [ AP ]
DETROIT — Water levels in the Great Lakes are continuing a two-year rebound.
The Detroit News reports today that the latest estimates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system and Lake Superior are between five inches and nine inches above levels from one year ago.
Statistics also show Lake St. Clair is one inch lower than last year, and Ontario is three inches lower.
Army Corps data indicates Lakes Ontario, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior ended November within inches of historical levels for this time of year. Lake St. Clair is slightly above its historical level.
The lakes had been declining for most of the past decade
via [ Journal Sentinel ]
Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to close shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery.
State Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit Monday with the nation’s highest court against Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan.
Bighead and silver carp from Asia have been detected in those waterways after migrating north in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades
via [ Chicago Public Radio ]
Ohio Endorses Lawsuit Against Illinois in Battle over Carp.
Quarterly average water bills for high-volume industrial customers:
- Sheboygan: $37,119
- Milwaukee: $41,151
- St. Louis: $53,497
- Green Bay: $64,086
- Chicago: $65,800
- Dallas: $79,512
- Louisville: $80,087
- Kansas City: $90,544
- Philadelphia: $105,717
- Denver: $110,717
- New York: $115,528
- Cleveland: $121,430
- San Diego: $157,557
- Pittsburgh: $172,367
- Phoenix: $176,405
- Seattle: $209,482
- Atlanta: $251,984
- Los Angeles: $274,000
Source: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
via [ Journal Sentinel ]
Milwaukee, which has a lackluster record in luring new industry with tax breaks or subsidies, has a new plan up its sleeve: giving deeply discounted water to new companies that create jobs.
At a time when regions such as metro Atlanta and the Southwest face acute water shortages, the Milwaukee Water Works operates at only a third of its capacity. And it draws off the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth of the world’s surface supply of freshwater.
That means the city, which operates the utility, can add new water customers at marginal cost - even if they guzzle prodigious volumes of water.
“This is our comparative advantage,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday at a conference on the economics of water at Marquette University. “We have to sell on our comparative advantage. We cannot sell our winter weather.”
“We would be the first city to offer water for jobs,” said Richard Meeusen, the chief executive of Badger Meter Inc., a Brown Deer-based maker of water meters.
Meeusen said Milwaukee should begin by poaching industries from metro Atlanta, which was regarded as an economic boomtown for the past two decades. Atlanta, which already faces water shortages, will confront even tougher challenges after a federal judge ruled in July that Atlanta must stop drawing water from its Lake Lanier reservoir within three years.
“Their taps are going to run dry in three years,” Meeusen told the conference. “We should be running full-page ads in the Atlanta papers, ‘Worried about Water?’
John Laumer of Treehugger offers a response Milwaukee’s plan for economic development.
via [ Treehugger ]
Although superficially, this may seem quite sensible, there is a high risk of unintended and unwanted consequences if a cheap water incentive were offered to all comers. The choice is one of seeking sustainable industry or returning to the Iron Age trade offs of environmental degradation and hidden impacts on taxpayers.
Duluth, Green Bay, Escanaba, Marquette, Munising, Green Bay, Racine, Kenosha, Chicago, Toledo, Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and other Great Lakes cities all are capable of making a similar offer of cheap water for jobs. In that context, any well-led business would step back into due dillegence, looking for possible unintended consequence down the road.
High industrial water consumption brings other intensities.
Water-intensive industries very often also are energy intensive, and also tend to have high air and water pollution burdens. The much diminished paper and steel industries, once common in the Midwest, exemplify the pairing of water and energy intensities with water and air pollution.
For every gallon of water taken in by industry, there will be some fraction of a gallon discharged into public sewers: typically flowing into a publicly owned treatment works (POTW), constructed and operated at public expense.
Water supplies from Lake Michigan are, for local purposes, near infinite. On the other hand, both sewerage treatment capacity and ability of Lake Michigan to assimilate pollution are limited. Overuse can have hidden direct and indirect costs. Logical questions to precede any water sale to industry, then are:
is there excess treatment capacity at the sewerage treatment plant which matches the discharge potential of water intensive industries?
could waste water discharges from a single, new polluting industry potentially “limit out’ waste water treatment capacity, excluding other job opportunities?
is it possible to compare jobs creation potential per million gallons per day of wastewater discharged by industry sector?
via [ TreeHugger ] “Was it Worth It? One Asian Carp Found After Six Miles of River Poisoned in Illinois”
An emergency operation to stop invasive Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes used more than 2,000 gallons of rotenone to poison six miles of a canal near Chicago this week. Tens of thousands of fish were killed. Just one Asian carp, the target of the poisoning, was found. An esitmated 100 tons of dead fish will be taken to a landfill.
via [ AP ]
LOCKPORT, Ill. — An Obama administration adviser says a decision could come within days on whether to temporarily close a shipping lock in a bid to stop the Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.
Cameron Davis is the Great Lakes adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He tells The Associated Press on Friday that discussions are under way about closing the O’Brien Lock while crews poison part of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The goal is to ensure the voracious carp don’t get into Lake Michigan and devastate the $7 billion-a-year Great Lakes fishing industry.
On Thursday, officials said they’d found one Asian carp during a fish-kill operation on another part of the canal. DNA tests have indicated the fish might be even closer to the lock.
Workshop: Communicating Watershed Concerns to an Urban John Q. Public
The workshop will be held at the Hammond Marina, 701 Casino Drive, Hammond.
I will be speaking at the workshop on Friday, November 20, discussing barriers to public access on our lakefront. I hope to post my presentation soon.
Speakers to include:
Biographical Information: Dan Gardner directs the water quality enforcement program in Lake County. As director, he oversees a $700,000 program, mandated by the federal Clean Water Act, to clean county rivers and lakes of eroded soil and other pollutants. Previously, he served as executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.
Dr. Kenneth J. Schoon:
A Geological Perspective of the Calumet Rivers: The routes of the three Calumet Rivers are the result of the glacial, lacustrine, and human histories of the area. The glaciers set the stage, the waves of Lake Michigan altered the landscape and determined the original routes of the Calumet Rivers, and human intervention has made additional alterations. Human actions sometimes have unintended consequences.
Biographical Information: Dr. Schoon is a professor of science education at IU Northwest and teaches the methods of teaching science to preservice teachers. He has an A.B. in geology and an M.S. in secondary education both from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago. Since January of 1999 he has served the School of Education as Associate Dean.
After 22 years experience teaching middle and high school science, in 1990 Dr. Schoon joined IU Northwest’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). Two years later he became the science-education faculty member for the School of Education.
Dr. Schoon’s research interests center around local studies and misconceptions in science. He serves on the coordinating committee for Science Olympiad, He is a part president of the board of the Dunes Learning Center.
Dr. Schoon’s book, Calumet Beginnings, was released in October of 2003 and is now in its 5th printing. A tree identification book focusing on Midwestern urban trees should be released next year.
Biographical Information: Dr. Roadcap is a hydrologist with the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL. His research in the Calumet region dates to 1996 with the diagnostic-feasibility study of Wolf Lake and Lake George. This was followed by an assessment of the hydrology and water quality at Indian Ridge Marsh and the potential effects of wetland rehabilitation in 1999. His research includes projects in Kane, Will, McLean, and Tazewell counties in Illinois.
A brief PowerPoint presentation describes the Hegewisch Marsh water control structure project.
Biographical Information: Nicole Kamins is a Program Director with the City of Chicago Department of Environment. For more than ten years, she has advanced the Calumet Initiative, an effort to revitalize open space on the Southeast Side. In that time she has helped to secure over $3 million dollars in grant funding for ecological restoration, stewardship, and research for Calumet. Nicole earned her B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her M.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.
George Van Til:
In the State of Indiana, County Surveyors are responsible for some aspects of the care and maintenance of creeks and ditches that are considered county regulated or “legal” drains, as part of the state’s patchwork quilt of drainage laws and regulations.
Biographical Information: Van Til has been dealing with these issues during his 17 years as Lake County Surveyor as he stressed coordination, intergovernmental cooperation and planning for flood and pollution control, while working in tandem with the County Commissioners on the Drainage Board.
Before this he was involved in drainage concerns for 8 years on the Highland Town Council on its Flood Control Committee and for 2 years on the County Council as Chairman of the Council’s Drainage Board and Surveyor’s Committee.
During his service in this office he missed only 1 public meeting in nearly 28 years while developing many projects and unheralded improvements. Van Til has been heavily involved for many years in many civic, charitable and environmental organizations and efforts, as well as AWLI.
Tom McDermott Jr., Mayor of Hammond:
In 2000, the National Park Service (NPS) took the lead in facilitating a public process that involved nearly 150 participants that developed a shared vision for the future planning protection and development significant natural and recreation resources of Wolf Lake. Many of the goals and actions defined jointly during this process have been implemented, many more not. Rory Robinson of the National Park Service will look back at this effort and forward at what can be done to complete this vision.
Biographical Information: Rory L. Robinson, During his thirty year career with the National Park Service, Rory has worked in five different NPS units primarily in the fields of interpretation and cultural resources management. For the past 15 years, Rory has worked in the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program where he has provided assistance to the Ohio and Erie Canal, Maumee Valley, and Wabash River Heritage Corridors. He has been involved in trails planning efforts throughout Indiana and Ohio, and worked on river and watershed projects along the Little Miami, Wabash and Blue Rivers.
In 2006 Rory received the Mike Carroll Award for Distinguished Leadership by a Professional Planner by the Indiana Planning Association. He provided leadership in the nationwide Towpaths-to-Trails Initiative with the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy, and the revitalization of the National Recreation Trails program. A native of Northeast Ohio, Rory holds a BS in Parks and Recreation Management and Environmental Interpretation from The Ohio State University. Phone: 330-657-2950, E-mail: email@example.com
Biographical Information: A lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana, Pete Visclosky represents Indiana’s First Congressional District, which includes Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Benton Counties. A member of the Appropriations Committee, Visclosky serves as the Chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee. He also serves on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and is the chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus.
Through his position as Chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Pete has worked in a bi-partisan fashion to boost research and development funding for alternative energy sources and new conservation initiatives. Working with Senator Richard Lugar, Visclosky was also able to secure $9.5 million for the construction of a bio-mass ethanol plant in Indiana’s First Congressional District.
In addition to supporting steel and manufacturing jobs in Northwest Indiana, Visclosky has been a leading advocate for major economic development projects throughout the area, including the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana and the Marquette Plan, Pete’s strategy to invest in Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Additionally, Visclosky has supported local infrastructure projects that will help build a new economy in Northwest Indiana, such as the South Shore Rail Line and the Gary/Chicago Airport.
Pete was born in Gary and graduated from Andrean High School in Merrillville, He earned a B.S. degree in Accounting from Indiana University Northwest, a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1973, and a Masters degree in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University.
The purpose of the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program is to enhance the State’s role in planning for and managing natural and cultural resources in the coastal region and to support partnerships between federal, state and local agencies and organizations. The Program provides financial and technical assistance to state, local and regional government and NGOs to protect, preserve and properly manage coastal resources. This presentation provides an overview of the opportunities available for resource management under the Coastal Program.
Biographical Information: Mike Molnar is the manager of the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and has served in that capacity for six and a half years. Born and raised along the shores of Lake Erie, Mike learned first-hand the environmental impacts of pollution on the Great Lakes and how combined efforts can result in success. He developed a lifelong love and appreciation of the Great Lakes through many fishing and camping trips with his family as a child. Molnar is a graduate of Miami University of Oxford, Ohio and Indiana University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological science and a master’s degree in public administration from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He is a firm believer that through accountable and efficient planning, practice and stewardship we can make a difference.
The Bi-State Calumet through the Years. A century ago Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Chicago did not stop at the state line, but continued across the Calumet region to Michigan City. Maps used by early settlers followed Native American trails along ridge lines and early planners followed these trails that had evolved into roads and waterways or rail lines with little regard for state boundaries, much less those of counties, townships, villages and cities.
Biography: Rod Sellers taught American History, Chicago History, and Law at Bowen High School and Washington High School in Chicago. He is retired after a 34 year career with the Chicago Public Schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in Urban Studies, and a master’s degree in Public Service, both from Governors State University.
Rod has a special interest in local history and volunteers at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. The museum has a collection of thousands of photographs, slides, and negatives, as well as artifacts and documents related to family and community history. Rod has worked extensively with the Southeast Chicago Historical Project Collection since its acquisition by the Southeast Chicago Historical Society. He is the co-author of Chicago’s Southeast Side, a pictorial history of the community and is the author of Chicago’s Southeast Side Revisited both published by Arcadia Publishing.
A brief discussion on the barriers to access in our older urban industrial communities along our southern shores of Lake Michigan.
Biographical Information: A fairly recent settler to East Chicago, Thomas has a long family history with the Chicago region. In recent years he has worked to address the concerns of the older urban industrial communities along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, while pursuing a masters degree in urban planning at University of Illinois Chicago. He served as President of the East Chicago Redevelopment Commission. Participated in regional planning initiatives. Initiated a comprehensive plan for the City of East Chicago, and served as Director of the East Chicago Waterway Management District with the responsibilities to envision a waterway that meets the environmental, demographic and economic needs of the coming decades. He is also a past director of the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative.
He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1987 with a degree in Painting, Philosophy, and a concentration in Languages (French and Russian), and studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1993 He graduated from Indiana University with an MFA in Painting.
He spent the next decade working in Medical Education where he secured funding from the Washington Post to launch KaplanMedical.com, the leading online learning community for medical students and professionals around the world. He is presently pursuing a career as an artist and maintaining a blog at: www.blog.thomasfrank.org.
Biographical Information: Alderman John Pope is a lifelong resident of Chicago’s 10th Ward which is located on the far southeast side of the City. The captain of Mount Carmel’s football team, Pope then attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana where he was a member of the Student Council, played football, and obtained a degree in economics.
He worked as an analyst in the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management for 3 years and later served in the City’s Building Department as Director of Demolition. Pope then served as an assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and was involved with neighborhood improvement and infrastructure programs.
Pope became Alderman of the 10th Ward on May 3, 1999 when he was sworn in at the City of Chicago’s City Council meeting. John was re-elected for his second term on February 25, 2003.Pope sits on various City Council committees including: Economic & Capital Development, Special Events where he serves as the Co-Chair, Housing & Real Estate, Energy, Environmental Protection & Public Utilities, and Police & Fire, and Buildings.
The workshop is co-sponsored by the Indiana Lake Management Society and the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative. For further information on the workshop, call 219 933-7149 or 312-220-0120.
There is a lot to be cognizant of in the dynamics of our past settlements and how we have become an array of our present. In every place where place is found and every gap we fortify, we grapple with each array and force a future we hope to portray.
I am learning more about the genetics of our organizing principles as they present themselves in our built environment - a diorama of the universe within. My instincts are to search out first principles, first causes and identities associated with the founding of this Mega-Metropolis on the lake. Exponential growth patterns encourage me to look back as if a culture of fewer could carry all we know and see today.
In this place with the Lake so large, we operate with the notion that it is capable of absorbing every folly. Today, the Chicago metropolitan area is six-and-a-half-million and growing. Upon investigation we can see paths of patterns in how the city became what we see today. Carolyn Raffensperger of the, Science & Environmental Health Network was very kind to give me this early view of Chicago from the water. Although it seems sparse it is rich in three basic elements: the water we drink (with 20% of the worlds fresh water), the land we sow (with the richest soils in the world), and the air we breath (the vast sky’s of fresh clean air). Yet, we often forget the life of which we are apart, and which knits and communicates between the three basic elements of our region, and creates the possibility of every identity.
So here we are again on this magnificent lake, faced with a new array of challenges that prompt us to envision whole new ways of being. We are at this epic moment, faced with the greatest urban renewal project humankind has ever known. Most of our time on the land has been spent sheltering ourselves from the elements, now we are beginning to conceive how we may live in harmony with them. We are looking again, and taking inventories of the built and natural environments, and mining the past for answers. We are questioning the forces that played upon our common intent, and the subsequent patterns of practice produced. We are collecting again, this time data, frameworks, systems, best practices, stories and designs.
This mere adolescent act of building capacity is changing who we are and how we interact with our surroundings. It is having ripple effects throughout our society and the world, including how we do business, and how we move through the world. It is changing every material we make, use and, and reuse, and animating every inert material with multiple tasks never before thought of. We are mining our dumps, junkyards and garbage cans. We are designing from cradle to cradle, and eliminating the throw away society.
We are changing the equation.
To a certain degree Chicago studios and labs have been at the forefront of visioning new equations. The Urban Lab’s H2O project is one such vision for revitalizing our watershed by borrowing and extending motifs from the 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago. Regardless, this new era continues to face enormous challenges from legacy industries and planning frameworks, particularly transportation frameworks developed for fossil fuel dependent industries.
This epic moment in urban renewal will require new transportation design concepts which maximize alternative energy resources. Transportation planning during the past century was rarely integrated into place making land use designs. Highway H2O is not only an unfortunate metaphor but an all-too accurate one for industry looking back to the “hey days” of the 1950’s transportation expansion models. Another transportation related failure of the twentieth century has been our deep dependence on fossil fuels. Although our Investments portfolios are stocked with Oil, future use projections of oil indicate we have very little choice but to get beyond this addiction. As the energy equation for fossil fuels becomes less favorable this will strengthen the viability of alternate sources.
Energy Challenges Still Tying Us to Past Patterns of Behavior
As we begin to retool and make the necessary transition out of our deep dependence on fossil fuels we need to be pragmatic and mindful of how far some will go to hold to this legacy industry. We are at a very perilous moment. Today Chicago is retooling its refining capacity to support the heavy sour crude coming out of the Canadian Tar Sands. It is estimated that the Tar Sands will supply enough fuel to support the present rate of growth in our region for the next decade. Yet, it comes at a tremendous cost to Chicago by:
- Degrading our environment: piping in, refining, and burning this high sulfur product throughout the Chicago land region (BP on the shores of Lake Michigan) will increase aggregate levels of pollution and further stress our sustaining airshed.
- Increasing energy costs: 1-barrel investment to produce 5-barrels of product (for heavy sour crude from the Tar Sands). That is down from 1-barrel investment to produce 100-barrels of product (for sweet crude).
It also comes at a tremendous cost to the natural resources in Alberta and the surrounding areas.
- Deforestation: The tar sands ranks second to the Amazon Rainforest Basin in its rate of deforestation on the planet, and wiping out the ancient Boreal Forest in Canada.
- Increased CO2 Emissions: The tar sands mining procedure releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production.
- Massive Tailing Ponds: The tailing ponds are growing, > 50 kilometres
As we are beginning to understand the importance of environmental sustainability from the viewpoint of our Great Lakes, we are simultaneously (due to our appetite for fossil fuels) creating a watershed disaster on the scale of Lake Michigan.
The Environmental Defense has called it the most destructive project on Earth.
Envisioning a Future
The best way to clarify future markets is with better solutions and cooler products. What apple did to the music industry can be replicated in the transportation industry. The “Living Planet City” out of Canada, the same Canada of the Alberta Tar Sands, have developed a visual aid for envisioning ways of organizing our communities around renewable energy.
via [ Living Planet City ]
Imagine a world where we no longer need to burn dirty fuels like coal or oil from the tar sands that cause global warming.
It would look a lot like the Living Planet City, where people’s homes, workplaces and vehiclesare powered by harnessing renewable energy from the sun, wind, water and earth. And it is possible now!
The Living Planet City is a virtual city, but real communities in Canada and around the world are already using similar systems. In these communities, citizens are gaining a whole new understanding of energy, and actively engaging in the fight against climate change. They are lowering greenhouse gas emissions and securing a local, renewable energy supply, all while reducing their energy bills and creating good, green jobs.
This is a story about the good, and a lot of tough love between communities.
To date the Portage lakefront is the only location where progress toward realizing the Marquette Plan is visible, and there are significant reasons why this is the case. The predominant reason is that Portage is a solidly white middle-class suburban community with middle-class values and an intact civil society. That is not the case with East Chicago or Gary. The Marquette Plan comes out of middle-class desires to access and utilize the commons on our lakefront.
<Quick History Lesson>
Unlike Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago and Gary, Portage’s industrial history only goes back to 1959 when National Steel opened a plant along Lake Michigan on the very site where the new Portage Lakefront Park now resides. In 1961 the Port of Indiana at Burns harbor, a deep water port, was opened. And in 1963 Bethlehem Steel Company started construction on their large integrated steel facility.
This eastern expansion of heavy industry along Lake Michigan’s southern shores prompted Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in an effort to preserve portions of Indiana’s natural shoreline, including its biodiversity, and unique landscape left thousands of years ago by the receding glaciers of the ice age.
In a few short years Portage went from a farming community with ancient dunes and swales and an expansive lakefront to an industrial community with no lakefront access. While Gary experienced a hollowing-out of its neighborhoods due to “White Flight” and massive disinvestment by Industry, Gary’s new neighbor, Portage was a fast expanding brand new, and mostly white, industrial community. Today, Portage has an estimated population of 36,000, the largest city in Porter County and the third largest in Northwest Indiana, behind Gary and Hammond. Portage is still mostly white with 92% white, ~8% hispanic, and <.2% black. Like most developments during this era Portage was designed on a suburban pattern model.
</Quick History Lesson>
Portage’s civic leaders not only adopted the Marquette Plan immediately, they expanded on it with their City’s Northside Master Plan. Of the five lakefront communities included in Phase I of the Marquette Plan, Portage is the only community to take advantage of JJR’s (award winning) work. You can see from the diagrams below how Portage has benefitted from a consistent visioning and planning process. Like East Chicago, Portage suffers from very little public access to the lake, and yet they propose to gain additional access by recovering existing brownfields along its waterway - the same strategy proposed in the Marquette Plan for East Chicago. You can see from these plans how Portage is looking to maximize what little they have by leveraging its waterways and River front. Clearly they have a long way to go, and not all the solutions are the most ideal, but this is a very good beginning. It is a testament to what can be done.
|Marquette Subarea Conceptual Plan for Portage Lakefront||Portage Master Plan for Lakefront and Riverfront|
In contrast to Portage, East Chicago has traded against the plan for a private development along the lakefront for one of the Mayor’s largest fundraisers (a family member was chief of staff and is now chief of police) and branded it as the Marquette Plan with no public input. The Mayor’s plan completely abandons the Marquette Plan which, like Portage, aimed to recover abandoned brownfields along its waterway - The Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal. Both the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) and the Regional Development Authority (RDA) have not only allowed this to occur without objection, but are encouraging and funding it. I will leave this story for another post.
It is important not to down play Portage’s regional identity as a white community as a contributing factor for its success. Unfortunately, “white” is still an important factor in identity politics in this challenged region. I don’t mean in any way to take away from the hard work that went into Portage’s successes, but to clarify the impediments the other communities face. It is just as important to acknowledge Portages ability to pull together a professional staff capable of realizing opportunities, attracting investment dollars, managing resources, and implementing solutions. And this is exactly why Portage poses a formidable challenge for the highly blighted older minority and urban communities along the lake. Because the leaders of Portage are more capable of forging the right relationships to produce results through an efficient process they are afforded more opportunities. Portage isn’t sitting still, in fact, they have begun to cherry pick opportunities slated for the other shoreline communities.
As an advocate for the older urban Lakefront communities, which dominate the Southern Shores of Lake Michigan, there is a part of me that is insulted that this project spearheads the redevelopment efforts as envisioned in the Marquette Plan. There is also a reality that money’s from the other minority communities, through the RDA, help finance this project. Now that Portage has completed this catalytic project, and jump-started its market by bringing valuable brownfields into productive common recreation use, Portage is set to realize its broader vision. Unfortunately, now that they have realized all this they no longer have a need to contribute to the RDA.
What Portage is able to realize is exactly what we had hope would happen when we first set out to develop the Marquette Plan. That is why we developed catalytic projects in each of our urban lakefront communities. The blighted conditions that remain in East Chicago and Gary are waiting for someone to implement their catalytic project as outlined in the Marquette Plan.
While regional entities praise the Portage project for reclaiming valuable though contaminated lakefront property, they also sight contamination as an impediment to redevelopment in my community. When it comes to redeveloping the Brownfields in East Chicago, all too often we are treated as if East Chicago were Chernobyl. If East Chicago is Chernobyl, and I am serious about this, then the USEPA ought to make this perfectly clear so we can begin abandon our properties and all our industrial facilities. If East Chicago is not Chernobyl then lets get to work and stop avoiding the impediments to change.
With the Portage project success has been gained, but now we need greater success.
This past spring we went out to Portage to take a look at the new lakefront park. Finding the entrance and then realizing that it was the entrance was just plain weird to say the least. It required entering and traversing a poorly marked U.S. Steel facility adjacent and across the river from the park. I suspect this was only a temporary solution, at least until they can construct a more formal and appropriate entrance. The most striking feature of the park besides the feeling of trespassing on industrial property when you enter is the pavilion. The Pavilion provides a very strong silhouette dominating the site and the visual field. By its design it begins to inform your experience in this rather strange setting.
The NWI Times posted a wonderful video introducing the new lakefront and laying out the awesomeness of its achievement:
Former Portage Mayor Doug Olson and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Costa
<Build it and they will come>
via the [ Post-Tribune ] August 27, 2009
PORTAGE — The park that replaced the former steel mill sewer plant and acid pools at the mouth of Burns Waterway has become a sought-after destination, according to preliminary figures from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk — a former toxic waste site — was dedicated in November as a first-of-its-kind federal-local partnership between the Lakeshore and the city, which manages the 60-acre location under a formal agreement.
Lakeshore Superintendent Costa Dillon said 50,000 people have visited the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk this year. Park Service public information officer Lynda Lancaster gave a figure of 35,000 for the number of cars that have crossed the traffic counters at the gate from March to July.
The National Parks statistics Web site gives a raw number of 52,094 for the first seven months of 2009, making it one of the Lakeshore’s most visited areas.
But Lancaster cautions that it’s too early for firm totals or comparisons until surveys are done to develop a “multiplier” that can come up with a visitor total.
“The raw numbers are reduced for things like cars entering and leaving and local residents (in Beverly Shores and other parts of the park where people live), and increased for average number of passengers in each vehicle,” she said.
In any case, it’s clear the number of spring and summer visitors to the Lakefront and Riverwalk — the Park Service discourages calling the site a “park,” because it’s inside the Lakeshore — is at least equal to the city’s population.
The summer Lakeshore newsletter “The Singing Sands” lists “What is Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk and how do I get there?” as one of the most frequently asked visitor questions.
Besides educational programs like the spring No Child Left Inside hike and meeting in the “green” pavilion by regional planners and the newly formed Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, people come to swim and stroll along the paved trails and breakwater. They also fish, birdwatch or photograph the dunes.
“We get surfers for the major waves when the wind is from the northeast,” said city park staffer Kate Mitchell, working at the “healthy snacks” concession stand that opened in May.
“It’s amazing. People start coming at 9 or 10 in the morning and leaving around 4 or 5, and then other people come to watch the sunset or take the Riverwalk,” said manager Cindie Cassebaum.
She said the tables on the patio are popular with millworkers at lunchtime and waitresses on break from restaurants on U.S. 20, less than five minutes away.
</Build it and they will come>
Weighing Health Benefits against Risks
(Managing the Grey)
We have become familiar with weighing the obvious benefits of fish consumption against its risks. Since we know fish bio-accumulate contaminants that humans put into the eco-system, it follows that most of the risks we face in consuming fish is the product of our own doing. This risk is mostly associated with the externality of 100+ years of industrial production. This is just a fact that we need to accept. I don’t like it just as much as many industrialist. Granted there are some who continue to deny their practices as a cause, but we are no longer concerned with them.
For the most part public policy for determining acceptable levels of contamination has been led by the most unscientific measures - comfort level. As a form of public opinion measuring comfort levels for risk factors is vulnerable to manipulation. This has produced sub-environmental markets for risk, and a perfect opportunity for a certain specialized class of professionals to manufacture consent for dirty industrial projects in impaired communities. It is no surprise that our poorest, and least sustained communities would receive the highest concentrations of these dirty projects.
Like global warming, eventually we all share in the risk. Sure, for a while, the wealthy will be able to afford fish from other more healthier regions. But is that what anyone wants especially when we’re sitting on the Great Lakes, with nearly 20% of the worlds fresh water? What is happening to the inhabitants of these waters is happening to the waters. Could you imagine if we were to damage the rich agriculture soils of the midwest to such an extent that we produce only contaminated grains that require rationing to keep us statistically safe. Yet that is what we are doing with our waters. No one wants our waters to be unsafe, that is not the problem.
The October 18, 2006, issue of JAMA includes an article outlining the health benefits and risks of eating fish. On that same day the Washington Post published “Benefits of Fish Exceed Risks, Studies Find.” concluding that the benefits of fish consumption were so great that they “outweighed the danger from mercury and other contaminants even for pregnant women and children.” It would be a shame if the risk associated with our human made contaminants begins to outweigh the natural benefits of consuming fish.
Are the Risks beginning to Outweighing the Benefits?
Only three years after the above articles were published a new study prompts new questions:
- Are we beginning to see a cultural shift in the benefit-to-risk equation?
- Are we moving out of our comfort zone when it comes to public policy on fish consumption?
- What impact could this have an commercial fishing in the Great Lakes, a billion dollar industry?
- What impact could this have on the Great Lakes diet?
A new University of Illinois study links a pesticide, DDT, in fish to diabetes. DDT has been banned in the U.S. for more than 35 years.
“Even though we haven’t used DDT in decades, its metabolites are still detected in almost everyone in the country,” said lead researcher Mary Turyk, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health.
According to David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York, Albany.
“Most people have not thought of diabetes as a disease related to environmental exposure,” he said, “and these studies show that it is. The science has been growing very, very rapidly, and to my mind, it’s one of the most exciting developments in the study of diabetes.
”For the most common type of diabetes, Type 2, obesity and lack of exercise play a key role. The bulk of studies searching for a cause have focused on lifestyle factors, while research on environmental influences hasn’t been prominent in journals devoted to the disease, said Henry Kahn, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
“…But maybe it should be. It would be foolish to overlook pollution as a factor,” he said, adding that he and colleagues have lately taken a greater interest in the role of pollutants. “We recognize it’s possibly a very important thing,” he said. “We agree it’s on the list of things worth studying.”
Oliver Jones, a biochemist at the University of Cambridge, wrote in the journal Lancet last year that “if there is indeed a link” between contaminants and diabetes, “the health implications could be tremendous. There has been almost no consideration for the possible influence of environmental factors such as pollution.”
Among the reasons to believe that the environment might be involved in diabetes, according to Carpenter, is that its prevalence varies across geographic areas, and people who move to places where it’s more common become more likely to get sick. Kahn, however, said that effect could be due to people migrating to more developed areas, where a richer diet and more sedentary lifestyle are the norm.
This chart doesn’t bode well for the southern shores of Lake Michigan. I suppose if the data and conclusions from the U of I study are validated we will be adding DDT as a contaminant to the chart. Is there not a certain level of absurdity in having to refer to pages and pages of similar charts to determine if you can eat a certain fish caught in a certain reach of a river or lake? Wouldn’t it also make sense for all commercially sold fish to identify the location of the catch, with an associated risk factor.
As evidence mounts as to the extent of the damage to our natural systems and and pressures gather to increase production, competition for commercial use of the Great Lakes will become more intense. We already know what Tom Easterly, Commission of IDEM, thinks about commercial fishing in the Great Lakes.
“there is no need for recreation or commercial fishing in the Great Lakes because there were never any natural fisheries here. The Great Lakes are no better than stocked ponds.”
Mr. Easterly expresses well the sentiments of heavy Industry (BP, ArcelorMittal, USS) on the Southern Shores of Lake Michigan. They would like to call the commercial fisheries dead and be done with them as a competitor and advocate for healthy waters on the Great Lakes.
Environmental Justice calls for setting minimal requirements for allowing for a sustainable community.
With temperatures above 80 degrees we are back to the beach. This time getting away from the industrial and polluted Lakefront of Indiana and to the Warren Dunes Beach in Michigan. We generally make it out to the Michigan beaches three or four times a year and we have never been disappointed. Although the water conditions on the Lake Michigan shores are good I can’t say the same about Michigan’s Lake Huron Shores. Contamination levels there remind me of Indiana.
To view our experience at Indiana’s beaches go to [ View of Lake Michigan: Beach Closings ]
data source: [ Indiana BeachGuard System ]
For the past seven summers our family has been going to Whilhala beach in Whiting for an evening walk or a swim. This summer we got a pool and the weather has been too cool so we haven’t gone until Tuesday. On Tuesday the kids and I decided to go for a nice end of the day swim in the lake after swimming all day in the pool. When we got to the beach we found they had changed their policies and closed the beach area at 6 pm. We couldn’t even take a walk. The kids were disappointed, not only could they not go swimming that evening, but something they have always taken for granted suddenly came to an end. My answer to their cries at that moment was to agree with them - it wasn’t right and I didn’t understand why they closed the beach, but to make it up to them I promised to take them to Indiana Dunes the next day - Thursday.
Later that evening I found this article in the NWTimes “Vandalism prompts partial closing of Whihala Beach”
Increased gang activity has forced the county to close the Hammond side of Whihala Beach until further notice, a Lake County parks official said Tuesday.
The following day the kids and I got up and prepared for a day at the Dunes. When we got to the park, they were eager to get into the water. I slowed them down a bit by diverting their attention to hiking first.
Once the kids made their way to the beach they were in the water immediately. Unfortunately, it was no more than 5 minutes later that a voice announced that all swimmers had to come out of the water - the water was too polluted for their safety. I could see the frustration race across Marta’s face. Moments before this video she was in tears.
I could not be more disappointed in my community leaders. I am tired of fighting to stop them from ignoring the problems, problems for which they are directly responsible and from which they benefit.
When we got home I realized I had forgotten to ask for a refund, and I found this frontpage article in the Post -Tribune “Local beaches perform poorly in water tests”
The Testing the Waters report, released Wednesday by the National Resources Defense Council, shows that beaches in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties had advisories for bacteria or were closed because of bacteria 333 times in 2008, a 56 percent increase from the 213 events in 2007.
That’s up from 111 advisories and closings in 2006.
Overall, 18 percent of the beach samples taken in Indiana last year had bacteria levels higher than the recommended levels. That put the state 28th of the 32 states tested. The report includes samples from any coastal, bay or Great Lakes state.
And then there was this little nugget from Tom Anderson the Director of the Safe the Dunes Council.
Anderson said not knowing the source of the pollutants makes it hard for local officials and groups to fight the problem.
“It’s like where should we focus something if we don’t know where it’s coming from?” Anderson said.
He called for source testing to be included in the study, but that has its own problems. The federal act that requires the testing does not provide funding for source testing, said Amber Finkelstein, a public information officer for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Low-cost solutions for bringing down bacteria levels are available, however, Anderson said. He pointed to Michigan City, which recently prohibited people from feeding birds and bought lids for garbage cans.
It might be prudent here to mention that “Save the Dunes” recently received a large grant from BP. Oh, and may be I ought to mention that Tom Anderson serves on the Indiana Air pollution Control Board. The same board that recently re-designated Northwest Indiana from a Non-attainment zone to an attainment zone for Sulfur Dioxide. It may also be important to know that BP is presently retooling its Whiting refinery to process the high sulfur product coming out of the Alberta Tar Sands. Anyhow, I always thought Tom meant well.
Knowing that the water current flows counter clockwise in Lake Michigan, it is not hard to imagine who the source could be, especially with such acutely high levels of bacteria over 600/100ml.
Then there is this very glaring problem. I suppose most communities would have dealt with this in a previous era. Yes that is a known contaminated creek flushing right into the middle of the state beach. When it reaches the lake IDEM expects that “Dilution will be the Solution” to keep bathers safe. We wouldn’t have it any other way in Northwest Indiana. Do you suppose this could have a negative effect on tourism?
Via Save the Dunes [ Dunes Creek Watershed ]
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report “Testing the Waters 2009” tends to take a national perspective when it comes to the problem of identifying the main sources of pollution causing the beach closings. Nationally “Runoff” accounts for 36% of the sources of pollution, with 62% as unknown. However, in Indiana 99% of the source of contamination is considered “unknown.” In my mind this is a criminal disregard for the health of the public. The same “unknown” used to defend the largest landowners with the greatest intensive uses on Indiana’s Urban Lake Front.
More than 90% of our urban Lakefront is owned by three large industries; BP Whiting - the largest oil refinery in the Midwest, Arcelormittal - the largest integrated Steel Mill in the Country, and U.S. Steel - the second largest Steel Mill. Additionally the big three own the majority rights to our air and watersheds. If there is a major environmental problem, you can generally point to them as the source. They are also effective at using the marginal effects of non-point source pollution such as surface runoff and vehicular pollution to offset criticisms of their discharges. IDEM repeats these same constructed arguments. Granted runoff is a large contributor to the problem, but we also know from whom the contaminants are running.
IDEM regulates both industrial and municipal discharges. The cities are not with out fault. They have yet to separate storm water from their sewage systems which contributes to the surface runoff problem. To know the source is easy, to not - is to ignore the problem.
It doesn’t hurt industries interests that the Commissioner of IDEM is Tom Easterly, the environmental Director for Bethlehem Steel (now owned by ArcelorMittal) and Nisource, and who once told a table of Great Lake Commissioners over lunch that:
“there is no need for recreation or commercial fishing in the Great Lakes because there were never any natural fisheries here. The Great Lakes are no better than stocked ponds.”
With one of the highest concentrations of heavy industries in the country, It follows that Indiana’s urban Lake front would also see some of the highest levels of pollution. And in fact the data bares this out. Not only do we know that the indiana Harbor Shipping Canal is the most polluted waterway in the country, but according to the NRDC Study “Testing the Waters 2008″ East Chicago’s Jeorse Park Beach ranks third in the nation, and first in Great Lakes, for exceeding Daily National Standards. The geographical center of BP, Mittal and US Steel is East Chicago’s Joerse Park Beach. This make Joerse Park Beach ground zero for some of the highest levels of pollutants in beach waters in the country.
<Clearing the Waters>
The source of pollution is ignorance and we know who the agents of ignorance are. They are self interested community and industrial leaders, who like to pretend that the problems stem from decisions made by “the public.” The source of our pollution is the same as the source of our public corruption. They go hand in hand. The only difference is that the private actors in this dance do not go to jail.
</Clearing the Waters>
- Now, off to the Michigan Dunes
At the [ economist ]
IT IS high season for a sliver of sand in Portage, Indiana. A pretty visitors’ centre sells ice cream. Lake Michigan shimmers in the sun. And beside the beach is a roaring steel mill. Swimmers enter the water at their own risk.
The Great Lakes—Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario and Longfellow’s “shining Big-Sea-Water”, Lake Superior—comprise one-fifth of the world’s surface fresh water. They have also endured centuries of abuse. But advocates are cheerful these days. Barack Obama’s budget proposes $475m for restoration. In June he appointed a Great Lakes tsar, Cameron Davis, to begin work in July. There is much to do
he 1970s brought reform, such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that sought to restore the lakes’ “chemical, physical and biological integrity”. But problems remain. Sewage systems continue to overflow, forcing many beaches to close. Levels of some toxins in fish have declined, but others pose new risks. Atlantic freighters still bring in foreign species—there are now 185. Regulations are tangled. In 2007 a refinery in Indiana received a permit to increase discharges into Lake Michigan. Only public uproar prevented it.
Better co-ordination would help. The Great Lakes region includes two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) and eight American states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. A report in 2003 counted 148 federal and 51 state programmes to restore the lakes. The region’s many swing states ensure periodic attention. In 2004 George Bush ordered a broad restoration plan to be drawn up. Implementing it would cost more than $20 billion. Little money, however, has been provided. It is still unclear who is in charge.
This may begin to change. On June 13th the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, announced that a treaty governing the waters between America and Canada would be updated. Mr Obama’s $475m would be the largest single investment of any president yet. Mr Davis, a respected advocate, may bring order to disjointed programmes.
Just as promising, restoration is increasingly seen as an economic boon, not a drain. The Brookings Institution, a think-tank, found that spending $26 billion to clean the lakes would bring benefits of at least $80 billion. As manufacturing dwindles, the lakes may attract new firms and workers. Chicago’s twinkling lakefront has been an important draw, a taste of the Mediterranean in the Midwest. Indiana’s shore is still lined with steel plants and refineries. But Portage’s beach, which opened last year, is the first step in an effort to reclaim the lakefront. The new plans are a nudge in the right direction.