U.S. Water News Online
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- BP America, after weeks of criticism by
environmentalists and politicians, announced it will not increase the
amount of pollution it dumps into Lake Michigan.
Instead, the company said it will work over the next 18 months to
seek technological solutions so it can move ahead with plans to
expand its oil refinery in Whiting -- just East of Chicago -- without
increasing the amount of ammonia and suspended solids it dumps into
the Great Lakes.
"We are committed to this project. It is important for the nation,
it is important for the Midwest, and it is important to BP and to the
thousands of BP employees in the state of Indiana," said Bob Malone,
BP America chairman and president. "We are going to work hard to make
this project succeed."
The announcement follows weeks of uproar by environmentalists and
lawmakers upset that the Indiana Department of Environmental
Management approved a permit allowing BP to dump 54 percent more
ammonia and 35 percent more suspended solids into Lake Michigan so it
could process heavy Canadian crude oil and increase production of
motor fuels by about 15 percent.
Malone said the company will not use the permitted higher
"That's good news," Tom Anderson, executive director of Michigan
City-based Save the Dunes Council said of BP's decision. "As we've
tried to point out, we believe and others believe that there is
existing technology that can treat that discharge. So we are
optimistic they will be able to find the technology and find the room
on the plant so the project can go forward and Lake Michigan can be
Malone said if BP determines it can't operate the refinery and
meet the pollution limits set by the previous permit, it will try to
develop a project that will allow it to.
"If necessary changes to the project result in a material impact
to project viability, we could be forced to cancel it," he said.
BP also announced it is granting Purdue University $5 million to
help pay for a study by the Purdue Calumet Water Institute and the
Argonne National Laboratory to identify and evaluate emerging
technologies that could help improve wastewater treatment across the
Since IDEM approved the new limits in June, a growing number of
critics have said the permit amounts to a reversal of decades-long
efforts to reduce pollution levels in the lake. The U.S. House passed
a resolution in July calling for Indiana to reconsider the permit.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., praised BP's decision.
"I applaud BP for making a commitment to addressing the energy
crisis in an environmentally friendly fashion," he said.
Malone said BP decided not to use the permit because a project
such as the one in Whiting "requires regulatory certainty."
"We have ... obtained a valid permit that meets all regulatory
standards and is protective of water quality and human health. Even
so, ongoing regional opposition to any increase in discharge permit
limits for Lake Michigan creates an unacceptable level of business
risk for this $3.8 billion investment," he said.
After the public outcry over the permit, Indiana Gov. Mitch
Daniels on Aug. 13 ordered a review of state laws covering Great
Lakes water quality and permits. He appointed James Barnes, the
former dean of Indiana University's School of Public and
Environmental Affairs and the former EPA general counsel and deputy
administrator, to conduct the review.
During a hearing before Indiana's Administrative Rules Oversight
Committee, IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly defended the process,
saying his agency felt no "undue pressure" from other state officials
to approve the permit.
He said the additional discharges were within Indiana's and the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory standards.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.