Finally a presidential candidate has advocated a Great Lakes policy – only, it has nothing to do with restoring the lakes and everything to do with ravaging the already threatened resource. There really is no other way to say it than you got it very wrong, Gov. Bill Richardson.
The New Mexico governor and democratic presidential hopeful, Richardson, showed his “donkey” (to put it nicely) when he suggested that parched Western states deal with their water problems by pilfering water from the Great Lakes.
First reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and later picked up by the Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, and Detroit News, the story goes that while stumping in Nevada, Richardson told the Las Vegas Sun that if elected he would bring states together to discuss how the northern states could help with water shortages in the Southwest. “I want a national water policy,” said Richardson. “We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water.”
Richardson’s comments evoked visceral responses from people around the Great Lakes, who have seen lake levels plummet in recent years. Reacting to the Free Press article, one online reader wrote: “Keep your hands and pipelines off our Great Lakes.”
Michigan Gov.Jennifer Granholm’s office was quick to respond. “It shows we need the strongest possible protection for the Great Lakes, especially when water levels are declining,” Granholm spokesperson Liz Boyd said.
Unbelievable, but in one fell swoop, Richardson most likely managed to throw away half of the electoral votes he needs to win the presidency. The eight Great Lakes states control 141 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House – not a good idea to affront the region – but then it is too late for that isn’t it? In the astute words of political philosopher and cartoon character Bugs Bunny, to the fiery westerner, Yosemite Sam, “Just a minute, you. Them’s fightin’ words.”