July 24, 2007

Environment or Energy - how about both?

There has been much in the news about BP's involvement in Lake Michigan. What is going on is that BP is planning on increasing the output of an oil refinery in Indiana, a move that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil (no oil refineries have been built in the United States in over 30 years [2]), and will create jobs in the Hoosier state. However, along with these jobs will come industrial waste. This waste is causing the controversy.

According to the Chicago Tribune, "The massive BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., is planning to dump significantly more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan, running counter to years of efforts to clean up the Great Lakes."

But before you go running off to picket your local BP gas station, consider their side of the story, and read their fact sheet concerning the move. Or better yet, try reading a less biased third party viewpoint from the Fort Wanye News Sentinel.

There's more to the story, and its complexities illustrate the tradeoffs we sometimes have to make in a modern industrial society. Energy independence and clean water are both important to us. We don't get to pick one or the other. We must, instead, determine which one has to be advanced a little at the expense of the other at any given moment.

Right now, our water is getting cleaner, but we are increasingly vulnerable because of energy. Maybe, at this moment, energy deserves a slight nod.

What's my take on the issue? Well, as you can see, this is a sponsored post, however that isn't affecting my opinion. I think that we don't just need to increase production at existing oil refineries, we need to build a lot more of them! We need to open up the Alaskan oil reserves, too. Then, of course, we need to continue to explore alternative energy sources, especial solar, tidal, wind, fuel cell, and algae. A few more nuclear power plants (one of the cleanest energy sources on earth) would help us out a lot.

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