Rokita, Redux

A Facebook friend shared this statement from Indiana congress-critter Todd Rokita:

After many emails, phone calls and letters, as well as meetings with all involved, I’m pleased to announce a long-term solution to low-flow situations along the Tippecanoe River: Late last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agreed that NIPSCO, operator of Oakdale Dam, should allow the river to flow more naturally.

My office continues to work on shorter-term ways to alleviate the situation on Lake Freeman — but we find ourselves in this situation due to the Endangered Species Act, which places endangered species, including six species of mussel along the Tippecanoe, ahead of the economic interests and safety of human beings. There is no economic balancing test under the law by design.

The Senate passed it unanimously, and the House passed it 355-4, in 1973. Only one Indiana Congressman, Earl Landgrebe, opposed the law.

Given the situation on Lake Freeman today, would you support repeal of the Endangered Species Act? When I posed that question at my Monticello Town Hall last week, several people raised their hands. Others said no.

What say you?

Well, Congressman, I say that the “economic interests and safety of human beings” is rather obviously connected to the health of the environment, and that protection of the ecosphere is a rather obvious element of environmental health.

I also say that, in sane times, comparing yourself to Earl Landgrebe (most famous quote, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind”) wouldn’t be seen as a particularly helpful career move.


  1. I think Mr. Rokita is all about showing the Koch Brothers that he is worthy of their financial support.

  2. I don’t believe the Koch brother care WHO their money is supporting; only one requirement, they must be a member in good standing of today’s GOP.

  3. “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind”

    This quote IMHO is the rallying cry of the Righteous, Reactionary Right. They reject Science especially when it concerns Evolution, Human created Pollution, or Ecology in general. I sometimes think when people discuss Terra-Forming Mars, that Mars may already be Terra-Formed. That is Mars is our future, a barren lifeless planet as far as we know.

    Honey Bees and Butterflies no longer roam the earth as I remember it from the Mid to late 1950’s. The large chemical companies and seed companies have selected which plants will survive and which ones should be destroyed and in doing so which animals or bacteria will be destroyed too.

    The guiding principal as always is short-term profit no matter what damage is inflicted on the earth or people (Think Agent Orange). This guiding principle is hidden behind a front of anti-science which appeals to those who want a simple explanation -Don’t confuse me with the Facts.

  4. Louie; my granddaughter and I discussed the lack of beautiful butterflies just yesterday. Also discussed the proliferation of spiders, they must thrive on pollution.

  5. Republicans seem quite susceptible to logic that says that the Federal Government is so inept that adding one more idiot to the pile can’t hurt. And, the GOP seems quite happy to provide an endless stream of them.

    What’s the connection, specifically between the lake, the river, the dam and the Endangered Species Act? What’s the connection between the six mussel species and the “economic interests and safety of human beings”? What’s the connection between the GOP and reality?

  6. A couple of years ago (prior to Sandy Hook shooting), I received a response from Rep. Rokita defending unrestricted ownership of unlimited-sized gun magazines. Every letter that he ever sent to me (in response to my letters to him) said, “I believe . . .”

    I kept thinking, “Aren’t you supposed to be considering what it is that your constituents want?”

  7. No, Ginny. He was elected, so he thinks that God has given him all the knowledge he needs to make a decision about anything and everything. For him, being elected is sort of like being divine. He doesn’t really need to know anything more. Don’t confuse him with the facts.

  8. Sheila, for once I’m going to throw a wrench into this discussion and ask for a little deeper thought on the matter.

    I am a voting democrat, quite liberal, so don’t think I’m supporting Rokita. I don’t.

    However: The dams and lakes in question were built in the 1920s. I’m quite aware that little thought was given to environmental questions in those years. However, for the “6 species of mussels” in question, their fate was determined at that time: the river was modified, and for 90 years the ecosystem has adapted to its new reality (we do believe in evolution here, right?).

    In those 90 years, the lakes were populated and a town of people grew up into the expanded environs of Monticello, Indiana. If you’re a humanist you have to recognize that they are people just as you and me.

    The more recent decision to require a set amount (500 cubic feet/minute) of water to flow out of the dam at Oakdale was not inspired. Lake Freeman is a shallow lake and one that previously remained at the same level at almost all times: whatever it took in, it gave out… basically how a river would behave normally. The only times this equation would not work would be in times of drought, and in those instances, sure, I support allowing the lake to fall to allow downstream species relief.

    However, this year has not been a drought. Not at all. Yet the water level earlier this week was 15 inches below normal; last week it was 2 feet below normal. In a lake where many areas are only 3-4 feet deep, this is catastrophic. Boats cannot even be taken to boatramps to be winterized, let alone use the lake – its too dangerous to use water so shallow. Businesses were laying off lake-related employees, the lake was empty of people, and many, many of these people have homes whose property values always assumed the lake would be given a chance to be used reasonably.

    The sky and the rain do not always produce a flow of 500 cubic feet/second of water in the downstream river. Requiring that flow from the lake is actually a MODIFICATION of the natural process – a manmade decision to use the lake as a variable-level reservoir to modify downstream water flow. That is not the way the lake had been used in almost a century, however. The decision to change its use was not only surprising but out of bounds with logic and human consideration. Making the lake dangerous for human use clearly lowers surrounding property values catastrophically – and that IS a valid consideration, Environmental Protection Act notwithstanding. How would you like it if I came in and said, whoops, your home is worth 50% less now, and forget about your retirement – sorry! -some empathy and reason needs to be employed here.

    As for Rokita, he throws up a choice that shouldn’t be the answer: “Should be repeal the act completely?” -no, dumb***, that isn’t the answer. The Act SHOULD be revised to take into account reasonable human impacts as well. I’m not saying that human rights trump animal rights at all times, but destroying an Indiana town for the sake of invertebrate animals who have managed just fine for 90 years does not, to me, a reasonable Democrat who believes in science, environmental protection, and long-term care of our planet…. the decree to force the lake to act in ways it hasn’t been used in long decades, while ignoring devastating human impact – that does not seem reasonable to me. Not by a long shot. So Rokita has a point, but he’s just too much of a opportunistic jerk to embrace the correct point. I don’t hear the Democrats offering a more reasonable and moderate solution, though, and if that’s because Monticello’s voting base is mostly Republican, well, I think that’s pretty pathetic.

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