MICHIGAN - With one tweet, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel blended multi-state environmental policy with college football's oldest rivalry.
On Nov. 24, Nessel offered a friendly wager to the neighboring state's attorney general down south: If the Wolverines prevail, you regulate phosphorus runoff contaminating Lake Erie; if the Buckeyes win, I'll wear scarlet and grey for a week.
Seems fair right?
Not to be outdone by his state-craft tweeting counterpart, Ohio AG Dave Yost offered an amended bet:
There are two backstories at play here, with plenty of historical conflict between Ohio and Michigan occupying the space between both sides. One is a contemporary environmental issue defiling one of the Great Lakes, one is a land dispute over the city of Toledo.
Lake Erie, the southernmost Great Lake in the system is also the most productive of the five water bodies. Being the shallowest and one of the most urbanized, its water and fish have proven a vital resource for the economies backing the cities on its coasts. Unfortunately, part of that production is tied to a cyclical infusion of nutrients like phosphorus that runoff of agricultural land that line the Maumee River. When it rains, that water rushes all the chemicals used in farming into the water, which is carried to Lake Erie.
When that happens, toxic algae covering the surface of the lake blooms, blocking out sunlight and sucking up oxygen - making it difficult for other plants and fish to survive. You may have seen satellite images showing a gooey green covering the lake. The blooms have proven to be getting more intense and lasting longer in recent years, with rising temperatures further promoting the growth of these plants.
That's the environmental issue. The origins of the University of Michigan Ohio State rivalry extend back further - all the way to the Toledo War. Described as an almost "bloodless boundary dispute" over territory that borders the two states. Poor geographical understanding of the area led to the two states both enacting laws over land they both considered under their jurisdiction.
As tensions grew, both governors deployed militias on opposite sides of the Maumee River. Besides mutual taunting, there was little interaction between the two forces. This bizarre conflict ended in 1836 after Michigan was offered statehood and the upper peninsula, in exchange for relinquishing the strip of land.
That conflict still manages to wiggle itself into modern-day policy discussions apparently, with Nessel accepting her counterpart's amended bet, but on one condition:
Jack Nissen is a reporter at FOX 2 Detroit. You can contact him at (248) 552-5269 or at Jack.Nissen@Foxtv.com