Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bush's EPA backs BP dumping

today's developments:

the chicago tribune reports:

Rebuffing bipartisan pressure from members of Congress, the Bush administration's top environmental regulator on Tuesday declined to stop the BP refinery in northwest Indiana from dumping more pollution into Lake Michigan.

Stephen Johnson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he saw nothing wrong with the permit Indiana regulators awarded in June to BP, the first company in years allowed to increase the amount of toxic chemicals pumped into the Great Lakes.

thinking better of their tuesday statement, the epa tried to explain it's support to polluting lake michigan as a technicality:

EPA will ask BP to offset pollution

Insisting that they cannot stop BP from dumping more toxic waste into Lake Michigan, federal officials will instead try to persuade the oil company on Wednesday to finance other projects that would help clean up the lake.

the ap reports on the meeting that the epa hosted today:

Elected officials and environmentalists meeting in Chicago on Wednesday roundly blasted a decision by Indiana to permit an oil refinery to dump more pollutants into Lake Michigan.

Many attending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-hosted forum say the planned discharge by the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana amounts to the most serious environmental threat to Lake Michigan in decades.

U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel says he believes the permit granted to BP is in clear violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

at this meeting, the epa presented seven ways bp could help:

Finance projects that reduce pollution from other companies that discharge into the Grand Calumet River or Lake Michigan.

Divert all or some of the refinery's wastewater to nearly municipal treatment plants. The Hammond Sanitary District, East Chicago Sanitary District and Gary Sanitary District are options.

Pay for sewer upgrades in neighboring towns to keep sewage and storm water out of Lake Michigan.

Set aside money to filter pollution that seeps into the lake. Projects could include wetlands, shoreline restoration or storm-water retention ponds.

Make additional upgrades at the refinery's water treatment plant to reduce the amount of pollution flowing into Lake Michigan.

Spend more money to dredge contaminated muck from the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal.

Join Indiana to pay for other projects that remove contaminated sediment in the Grand Calumet River.

CBS2 has coverage of the meeting online.

a number of good points have been made here:

* why has epa signed off on the permit when the clean water act prohibits any decline in water quality, even when limits on pollution discharges are met?

* why did indiana exempt bp from meeting stringent mercury limits for at least the next five years? the refinery currently releases 2 pounds of the toxic metal into the lake every year, according to federal documents. if the strict standard were met, the refinery's discharge would be reduced to 8/100ths of a pound.

* why is the epa abandoning its stated goal of "virtually eliminating" pollution in the great lakes? for 30 years, the states around lake michigan have been implementing the clean water act to clean up lake michigan. there had been general agreement that when it comes to this valuable resource, we should pollute less, not more.

chicago mayor richard daley has threatened to sue bp if it follows through on its plans to pollute lake michigan. the source of our drinking water shouldn't be treated as if it's a toilet...

UPDATE: you can call epa (region 5) to protest its approval of bp's polluting lake michigan at 1 800 621 8431

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