Lana Pollack

Earth Week speaker: People favor protections, but not if labeled ‘job-killing regulations’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lana Pollack got her first taste of government regulation, or protection as she prefers to call it, when she was a girl watching beef being butchered. As the Lamb Peace lecturer, Pollack, who chairs the U.S. section, International Joint Commission, kicked off Earth Week at Bowling Green State University posing the question: “If protections are good, why are regulations bad?” Certainly her father who ran a grocery store and butcher shop in rural western Michigan didn’t appreciate the state inspector who stood by while he and his help processed a beef carcass. Her father, Pollack said, was the kind of person who fed a lot of people whether they could pay their bills or not. Once a week he’d go to the cattle auction and buy a couple steers, which he’d bring back. Pollack said she went along, and watched the processing. “I know where my meat comes from.” She could see her father was “aggravated” by the inspector and his seemingly petty demands. In his later years, his daughter asked him if the state regulations made his ground beef or hot dogs any better. No, he said. “But it kept the guy down the road from adding sawdust to his hot dogs.” The consumer wasn’t protected from an ethical business like the one her father ran, but from the unethical ‘guy down the road.” That holds true for the environment as well, including the Great Lakes. That’s why the EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Regulatory Agency. People like “protection,” she said. They think far less of regulations, especially when they are so constantly referred to as “job-killing regulations.” That phrase is tossed around so much that it almost becomes one word. It’s a favorite of conservative lobbying efforts like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Words matter,” Pollack said. It’s not like businesses, including agribusiness, are opposed to government action, she said. They’re fine with it as long as it benefits them. While agribusiness may fight rules aimed at controlling the run-off of phosphorus from fields that causes toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, farm interests back federal government support for ethanol production, Pollack said. Now 40 percent of corn on 7 million acres of heavily fertilized cropland is grown for fuel. Taking action to combat pollution of the Great Lakes is a complex issue that involves understanding the science, as well as the cultural and political context. Pollack, who served in the Michigan State Senate from 1984 to 1993, describes herself as “a recovering politician.” At her lecture she showed two photos of the Cuyahoga River on fire, one from 1952 and the other from 1969. No action was taken in 1952 in the years of complacency after World War II. But the 1960s was a “time of social revolution” and “progressive change.” The burning river caught the public’s attention. Action was taken. Citizens agitated for environmental protections That action had beneficial effects. It dramatically reduced the amount of PCPs going into the Great Lakes. And it reduced the amount of phosphorus going into the lakes. That came by the removal of phosphorus, which promote algae growth, from washing detergents and commercial lawn care products. And it came from billions being invested into water treatment systems – which are…


Protecting Great Lakes focus of Lamb Peace Lecture

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Earth Week 2018 at Bowling Green State University kicks off April 16 with the annual Lamb Peace Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. The free lecture is titled “Policy, Politics and Pollution in the Great Lakes Basin: If Protections Are Good, Why Are Regulations Bad?” with Lana Pollack, chair of the U.S. section, International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC was established by the U.S. and Canada to address issues related to boundary waters including the Great Lakes. Pollack was appointed chair by President Barack Obama in June 2010. She has had a diverse career in public office, education and the public interest sector. From 1996-2008, she was president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s environment. She was elected three times to the Michigan legislature, serving as a state senator from 1983-94. During her tenure, she was a leading advocate for women, children and the environment and earned praise as the architect of Michigan’s landmark 1990 polluter pay statute. Pollack was a Fellow at the institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan and was an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. She served on a number of educational, nonprofit and corporate boards, including the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, which annually directed $35 million to $50 million in discretionary public funds to protect, purchase and enhance parkland and open space for preservation and recreation. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. BGSU’s Edward Lamb Peace Lecture annually brings internationally recognized experts to campus to address major environmental issues and how they affect world security. The lecture series began in 1986 in honor of the late Edward Lamb, a prominent Toledo lawyer committed to social justice, civil rights and world peace. It is underwritten by the Lamb Foundation of Toledo.