More BP vs Lake Michigan news



More fallout from the BP pollution plan. Don't forget that BP is the company that didn't spend the necessary money to maintain their pipelines in an Alaskan wilderness area, even while reporting record profits.

BP takes lumps on Hill:

Executives from the oil company BP hit a bipartisan buzz saw on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as Illinois lawmakers rebuked them in a private meeting and the House prepared to condemn BP's plans for increasing the dumping of pollutants into Lake Michigan.

Bashing BP, which recently secured an Indiana state permit to discharge more ammonia and suspended solids from its massive oil refinery in Whiting, is a new sport for Illinois politicians who see big problems with the permit -- and little political downside to attacking an oil giant over drinking-water quality, especially with no Illinois jobs hanging in the balance.

The House appears set to approve a resolution Wednesday, sponsored in part by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), that condemns the dumping permit. It allows BP to release 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more solids, tiny particles of pollutants that make up sludge, than it already dumps daily into Lake Michigan.

BP said Tuesday it has done everything possible to keep more pollution out of the lake. And BP executives -- including the company's American president, Bob Malone -- pledged to re-evaluate their Indiana expansion plans by Sept. 1 with environmental quality in mind during a noontime meeting in the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the politicians in attendance said and a BP spokesman confirmed.

Everything possible, other than not going ahead with their nefarious scheme.

and here comes this nearly-fact free statement about the 80 jobs:

There were no Indiana lawmakers at the meeting. They generally have been reluctant to criticize BP, at least in part because the refinery expansion would add 80 jobs.

I still want more detail about these 80 alleged jobs: what exactly are they? How many are secretarial? How many are for plant security? How many pay above minimum wage? Is the wages of 80 jobs equal to 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge released daily into the largest source of fresh, drinking water in the world? I doubt it.

Lake Michigan Blues
Lake Michigan Blues

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Face Down
Face Down

The company wants to overhaul its 118-year-old refinery, the nation's fourth-largest, to process heavier Canadian crude oil. Dug out of tar-like sands in northern Alberta, the oil is considered a more reliable source than supplies in the Middle East. But extracting petroleum from the thick goop is a dirtier process than conventional methods.

When the company sought a new water permit for the Whiting refinery, state and federal regulators agreed there isn't enough room at the 1,400-acre site to upgrade the water treatment plant enough to keep more pollution out of Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for Chicago and scores of other communities.

As a result, BP now will be allowed to dump an average of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of suspended solids into the lake daily.

The additional solids, tiny sludge particles that escape water treatment filters, are the maximum allowed under federal guidelines.

Ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish, while suspended solids contain heavy metals such as lead, nickel and vanadium.

In advertisements and e-mails published during the past two weeks, BP has insisted the treated water it pumps into the lake is largely free of toxic waste. Federal records, though, show the refinery already is one of the largest sources of industrial pollution pumped directly into Lake Michigan.

Yes, I noticed a Google ad which led to a statement by BP which claims they only will be releasing rose water and diamond dust into Lake Michigan, and anyone who claims otherwise is a big poopy-head. Meh. Probably still there.

The politicians want to get in their licks too, and why shouldn't they? I signed the Save Our Lake petition over the weekend, and had to wait in line to do so. Pollution (and 80 Mc-jobs) vs. drinking water for 5 states is a no-brainer, unless you are a government official from Indiana, I suppose.

[Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), one of a half-dozen Great Lakes lawmakers at the meeting] said the controversy had rendered BP's pro-environment ad spending “wasted.” Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said the company was acting as if its initials stood for “Back to Pollution.”

Gov. Rod Blagojevich joined the list of angry politicians Tuesday with a statement threatening to sue Indiana in federal court if the permit isn't reworked.

Several Illinois lawmakers said Tuesday that protecting the Great Lakes, the world's largest source of fresh surface water, is more important than the potential for cheaper gasoline.

Durbin said increasing refinery capacity, and perhaps lowering gas prices in the process, would be “unacceptable” if it came “at the expense of the water that we drink.”

“It's your money or your life,” Durbin said. Politically speaking, the controversy is a chance for Illinois lawmakers to show off a cooperative spirit and for a congressman such as Kirk -- whose swing suburban district north of Chicago produced a tough race last year -- to tout his environmental credentials.

The politics are less clear-cut in Indiana, as reflected by the position of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) on the issue.

“We can't compromise Lake Michigan or any part of our environment for economic progress,” said Jonathan Swain, Bayh's press secretary. But, he added, the refinery “is vital to issues relating to the nation's energy supply and our economy.”
Republicans and Democrats from Illinois warned throughout the day that BP would lose any fight over Great Lakes pollution and that the company was risking an environmentally friendly image it promotes heavily in advertising campaigns.

“I told Mr. Malone that BP will not win this battle,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “For my purposes, this bipartisan meeting was to discuss the terms of surrender for BP.

Previous coverage
Don't They Dare

Chicago Vs. BP

BP Screws the Midwest

BP Takes the 5th

Green Logo

Department of PR vs. Reality

BP and Cheney

Lake Michigan and Skyline
Lake Michigan and Skyline

--- update: The WSJ adds:

Article -

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including the Majority Whip, on Tuesday threatened to block approval of an air permit for BP Plc (BP) that is required to expand the company's Whiting, Ind., refinery unless the company changed its plans to dump toxic chemicals into Lake Michigan.

Still, the London-based oil giant said it is not backing down from the project.

The senators said they were opposed to a dumping permit that state authorities have already approved and would use any means necessary to block the expansion plans until an alternative was developed.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said BP America Inc. Chairman and President Robert Malone and other company officials agreed to try and develop an alternative and would meet again Sept. 1. The permits, he said, were required for the company to expand the plant's gasoline output by 15% by 2011, and increase its ability to process heavy Canadian crude oil.

”We told them point blank if they do not work to protect Lake Michigan, they're in for a battle,“ Durbin said. ”They got a wake up call, and they understand that on a bipartisan basis congressional delegations around Lake Michigan are determined to protect that lake.“

Durbin said he and his colleagues said they would press the state authorities to review the water permit with the potential for revoking it.

However, the company said it had worked closely with environmental groups and permitting agencies to obtain the water permit, and would follow all stated procedures for obtaining the air permit as well.

A 60-day comment period was held from March to May, allowing time for objections to the permit to be voiced. New opposition to the permit surfaced after the final version was issued July 9, sparked in part by a high-profile story in the Chicago Tribune.

Yes, that ”high-profile“ story had this tidbit about the 60 day comment period:

Carolyn Marsh, a Whiting resident who appeared at the Chicago Park District news conference, said the public comment period lasted only 2 months. She said she was appointed to a citizen's committee by BP, but the refinery never mentioned any increase in ammonia or other pollutants.

Sure, BP followed the protocol, in a fashion - they just mentioned the potential benefits (Hey, look!! 80 jobs!!), but forgot to mention an increase in pollution. How did they publicize the hearings? Who was involved? Why don't they have another 60 day comment period now, I bet the results would be much, much different.

Shallow End of Lake Michigan


"Illinois politicians who see ... little political downside to attacking an oil giant over drinking-water quality, especially with no Illinois jobs hanging in the balance."

That gem from the Trib article is just unnecessary. While it might be true, to assume it in a news story seems like cynicism run amok.

That said, I still can't believe this is happening.

The travails in Whiting are no news. The dwellers hav been forced to leave or pay lot higher property tax. I knew it was because of an oil company. But yew! This whole plan is criminal at a time when we need to preserve our resources.

It'd be a shame if Lake Michigan were to get dirty for oil.

I am outraged about this additional dumping. I enjoy drinking my water straight out of my faucet, to me it tastes better than any other bottled water out there. I also give this water to my children and have an automatic ice machine in my freezer. We enjoy spending time on the beach and on wave runners and now i have to worry about almost 5,ooo POUNDS of SLUDGE DAILEY being dumped into my water. There is no way that any water plant can clean that sort of waste and be deemed SAFE to drink for anyone especially the future of our country!, Our growing children.

In 20 or even 10 years are they going to say "OOPS!", "sorry we didnt know it would cause cancer or some other type of serious, deadly or life threatening illness to your children". It is already more than enough that ANY amount of dumping is going on! We SHOULD be lessoning any further waste in our very little source of natural water, cutting it out completely, NOT ADDING TO IT!

For goodnees sakes what is wrong with these people! This is our future and our present and we have to protect it! NOT DESTROY IT! I did not have the privilege of putting my name on any petition, if i had known of one, i would have stayed in line as long as it would take for me and my entire family and all of my friends to sign it. So is it too late? Will another one go around? Where can we sign up? I have lots of people willing to OBJECT to this ridiculous obsurdity!

Vicki - Chicago park district kicks off petition has a link to the petition, there are others depending upon where you live.

We are all outraged, that's for sure.

I went to the website Chicago Reclamation District and the president calls swhat BP is putting into the lake sludge. This is kind of strange when he runs the same type of facility as BP's and knows or atleast should know what sludge is. Let me say...water treatement plants do not dump sludge in the lake...that is called illegal. If BP is dumping so is every other water treatment facility...look at their data...I did and it opened my eyes.

Also look how the Chicago Reclamation district describes sludge... "Many area golf courses, sod farms, tollway banks and parks are green and fertile because of the rich mixture of sludge and soil. In Fulton County, Illinois, the District is reclaiming 15,000 acres of land which were left barren and ugly from years of strip mining for coal. By leveling the land and enriching the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients in the sludge, wasteland has been converted to fertile ground for agricultural uses. This program is called the Prairie Plan."

Kind of amazing...he makes it sound like sludge is a great product...makes you wonder who is telling truths and who is just slinging sludge.

I signed the petition and now I feel pretty much used by rhetoric. I am well educated. I guess I need to think some more. You let me down let me down let me down let me down my college buddies who convinced me to sign the hoopla.

Steve R. Chicago North Sider

Well, Steve, at least BP didn't let you down. In fact, I bet they would give you a barrel of sludge, and you could drink from it all day long. Well, until you died from the toxic waste. At least you could buy a new TV with the money BP payed you before you croak.

Do you even know what sludge is? No one is dumping sludge. If you want to use the word sludge cause it sounds cool then keep on going. I am telling you man, this is a war of words and not truths. I am trying to show what I am figuring out... the politicians, media, NGOs are just saying whatever will get you and I ticked enough to support them and donate money to them and collect email addresses for them. Sure BP is putting ammonia and suspended solids into the lake but so is every other recalmation facility. The media and poiliticians are calling it sludge like it is some black gunk... I did some research and this is not the case. Seth, this is not what I am standing for. I want a clean lake, but I can no longer support those who are leading this charge because they are misleading me.

I want a clean lake and that means I want all these facilities including Chicago's and Milwaukees and the people that fertilize their lawns with ammonia to meet standards that will hopefully be set at zero for say 2010 or something reasonable....That way maybe someone can start a business to build the technology.

The last time the beach was closed was because of e-coli.... I searched and searched google and found out that the BP facility has never closed a beach like those who got me to sign the petition claimed.

Seth, we need to voice our views, but please ensure they are truly our views and not the person that cries wolf.

Keep up your passion my friend.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on July 25, 2007 8:47 AM.

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