We Don’t Need Jobs If We’re Dead: An Open Letter To Congressman Pete Visclosky

Dear Mr. Visclosky,

Your constituents are dying. We are dying from air pollution, soil pollution, and water pollution. We are dying from some of the highest rates of toxic pollution in the country.

We are drinking and breathing poison.

This is old news though, isn’t it?

As BP oil is still being cleaned up here in Whiting, we need to talk about priorities, Mr. Visclosky.

Can I call you Pete? Good.

Pete, you used to be the chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perhaps the gravity of the situation hasn’t hit you yet.

Perhaps your constituents haven’t made their concerns clear to you yet.

Or perhaps there are certain conflicts of interest here.


This isn’t really about the oil spill. BP has been destroying our communities a lot longer than these past few days.

Let me break this down for you, Pete. We’ve got a problem. I understand that a good portion of your campaign finances are coming from the unions.

I dig it. I’m a union person, myself.

However, your consistent support for the BP refinery in Whiting is pretty disgusting. It’s making a lot of us wonder why you’re not being very vocal in the face of the oil spill. We, the constituents of Indiana’s 1st district, demand accountability from BP and we, your constituents, expect you to be leading the effort.

I’m not just talking about the oil spill though – am I, Pete?

No, as I said, this is old news.

In 2009, 19 legislators sent a letter to the EPA in order to demand an investigation into BP operations in the Great Lakes. This is after the EPA disclosed that the BP Whiting refinery had been emitting cancer-causing benzene into our communities for over six years.

But you didn’t sign that letter, did you?

Instead, you decided to meet with Lamar McKay, president of BP America.

After all, it was during those six years that you supported the expansion of BP in Whiting.

Why is that, Pete?

Is it because lobbyists are getting to you before your constituents are?

Every one of these hair-brained, Rust-Belt, post-industrial solutions to Lake County’s problems seems to have failed over the past 60 years. We’re not doing better off, are we?

Your whole game is that you’re a “jobs” guy. You’re bringing “jobs” to the region. So why does it seem like you’re putting business interests before peoples‘ interests?

Tell me, Pete, why is a refinery that employs so few allowed to poison so many?

Maybe you could become a “people” guy, rather than a “business” guy.

Maybe, since you’re running again this year for your congressional seat, you could stop pandering to BP and start listening to your constituents.

We have questions and we’d like some answers.

I’m writing you, because you’re supposed to represent me in some building in which I’ve never set foot so you can make decisions that have direct influence over my life.

I’m writing you, because you’re supposed to represent your constituents who are being poisoned in one of the most polluted counties in the United States.

I’m writing you, because we don’t need jobs if we’re dead, Pete.


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