Tomorrow, March 7th, Bernie Sanders will be visiting an arena roughly 1 mile from the Kalamazoo River. The portion of the river closest to Sanders’ rally is a superfund site due to high contamination levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCB’s. Beginning at the Morrow Dam and extending to the river’s outlet into Lake Michigan, the superfund clean-up efforts are underway; and in Kalamazoo’s Edison Neighborhood a proposition to cover the PCB’s with a cap and turn the land into a park for kids to play on is the cost effective favorite option for the EPA. Interestingly enough, the Morrow Dam is also where Enbridge Energy, the EPA, and the DEQ claim the tar sands oil spill of 2010 was successfully stopped. All three of these authorities have a RICH history of lying to the people of Michigan.
The Kalamazoo River has been a stream of controversy in which huge corporations have come in, made incredible profits, left the river in a toxic state, and failed to fully clean up their mess. Georgia Pacific, the corporation who bought the assets and liabilities from Allied Paper, has pushed off any and all clean up/ cover up efforts onto the tax payers in the region. Enbridge Energy has two major pipelines running through the land mass known as Michigan, and makes a killing transporting tar sands oil through the region. One of these pipes burst in 2010, creating the largest inland oil spill ever on the North American continent. Over 1 million gallons of heavy, sticky tar sands flowed into the river. Enbridge claims to have fully cleaned up the mess, but balls of tar sands continue to be
found on the beds of the river. Another Enbridge pipeline, Line 5, bisects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron near the Mackinac Bridge- this pipeline sits in open water and hasn’t been properly maintained since it’s construction more than 50 years ago.
The #FeeltheBern crowd has grown infamous for being an activist oriented campaign pushing for their “political revolution”. This is well and good to see the word revolution being used and accepted in a more mainstream manner, but is also frustrating to to see so many thousands (if not millions) of people throwing their time and energy into a presidential candidate while letting local issues fade from their mind and into the control of financial interests. There are numerous local front-line communities engaged in directly confronting the very issues Senator Sanders’ raises. This political revolution he is calling for neither starts nor stops at the polls or with $25 donations to a presidential candidate, it starts and stops with us- the people. If you are one of the thousands going to rally with Bernie Sanders tomorrow, please stop at one of the many river front access points or parks and reflect on the true value of water for yourself, the Great Lakes region, humanity, and all life on the planet. Can a presidential candidate really defend every local water source? Can a presidential candidate really bring about all of the change he is promising, or do we need to engage ourselves on a deeper level than the election cycle?
Does your revolution end at the ballot box?