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Opening Arguments

A small price

Let's see. We're too dependent on oil from the Mideast, so using Canadian oil would be a good thing. The lack of refining capacity is really hurting us, so a refinery in Indiana increasing its capacity would be a good thing. Creating jobs in Indiana and adding money to the state economy would be good things. So if BP wants to do all that at its Whiting refinery, and the state allows it, reasoning that, although more pollutants would be dumped into Lake Michigan, the refinery would still be within state and federal clean-water guidelines, how would Congress react? With shameless posturing, of course:

WASHINGTON -- The House voted Wednesday to urge Indiana to reconsider its approval of a permit allowing an expanded BP Amoco refinery to dump more pollutants into Lake Michigan.

The resolution passed 387-26 on a roll call vote.

"This Congress will not simply stand by while our Great Lakes are treated like a dumping zone," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Conference and the bill's chief sponsor.

All of Illinois' 19 House members voted in favor of the measure except Peoria Republican Ray Lahood, who was absent. 

Indiana's nine-member delegation was divided along partisan lines on what was generally a bipartisan vote. Four Democrats backed the resolution; one, Julia Carson, who was a sponsor, did not vote. The four Republicans opposed it. 

This is not the choice between evil business profits and a clean enviroment that opponents want to portray it as. It's not even a choice between energy independence and a clean Lake Michigan. It's a small step one way and a small price to pay.