Daniels takes shots at Northwest Indiana, Chicago in new book

September 22, 2011

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(AP/A.J. Mast)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been successful at politics. So much so that many Republicans wanted him to seek their party’s nomination for president. He declined last spring.

So, there's no acclaim for Daniels as a presidential candidate. But … accomplished author?

That’s still a possibility.

On Tuesday, Daniels released his book, Keeping the Republic: Saving American by Trusting Americans.

The book mostly comprises suggestions of how the U.S. can cure its debt problems. Many of Daniels suggestions cite instances of how he helped Indiana turn around.

But Daniels uses a few pages to take aim at Northwest Indiana, a region that has a decades-long loyalty to the Democratic Party. In one passage, Daniels writes about his futile attempt to make inroads in the region by bringing jobs.

“Culturally close to Chicago in both economics and politics, and with a reputation for governmental corruption and labor union aggression, our northwest corner is a place employers are more likely to flee than invest in,” Daniels writes.

Daniels is also critical of Chicago-area politicians for nearly thwarting the $4 billion expansion at BP’s Refinery in Whiting.

Concerns erupted in 2007 over possible increased pollution into Lake Michigan. Daniels writes environmental regulators on the state and federal level signed off on BP’s plans.

But he said that didn’t stop Chicago politicians from criticizing the plan.

“Even though the new plant would produce less pollution than the previous one, even though our environmental agency had meticulously dotted every ‘i’ in issuing the necessary permits, and even though the federal EPA had then approved the issuances, all hell broke loose,” Daniels writes. “Chicago politicians of both parties began competing to see who could do the best Green Preen, who could bluster the loudest and act the toughest with BP and with Indiana. With a blindfold on, you could tell from their rhetoric that these people were from Chicago.”

Daniels writes that had the project been planned for Illinois, similar fallout would not have happened.

“Hypocrisy was not an obstacle. If the jobs had been on the Illinois side of the border, you can bet the press would have come to a different conclusion,” Daniels writes. “The City of Chicago was (and is) depositing fifty times more ammonia into the water than the BP expansion would. Ammonia does no harm, by the way; fish excrete it, too, and it biodegrades quickly, but why let ninth-grade science get in the way of a hot press release? The BP plant emissions would be way under the EPA’s allowable limits, which are always set with a gigantic margin of safety to start with.”

Daniels says BP made some costly — but “environmentally meaningless” — changes to the project, which continues today.

Daniels is making the rounds to promote his new book, making stops throughout Indiana, but so far not in Northwest Indiana.

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