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BP Backs Down

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 24, 2007 1:00PM

BP announced yesterday that it was backing down on plans to increase discharges of ammonia and suspended solids into Lake Michigan from the planned expansion of its Whiting, Indiana refinery. BP announced on its website Thursday "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."

2007_8_bp.jpgAfter public officials in Illinois, Michigan, and their respective Congressional delegations began to pressure the company, a public hearing was called in Indianapolis by Indiana Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), designed to force the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to answer questions about how the permits to expand the discharges were awarded. Chicago also sent a delegation, with Chicago Park District Superintendent Timothy Mitchell and Mayoral assistant Joe Deal showing up early with 70,000 signatures against the expansion and prepared to speak. They were met with the "Hoosier stiff-arm", prevented from addressing the hearing, and left to wheel the petitions to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' office. Daley later said "the State of Indiana has not included anyone in this process to date, and today is another example.''

All of this comes after nearly a month of public outrage and bad publicity for the multinational energy giant, and just days after an oil pipeline leak that contaminated sewer lines in Munster, Indiana. BP's announcement came just an hour before U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, (D-Chicago) was going to announce a public pressure campaign against BP's top 20 investors. Further adding to the intrigue was a study "made available to" Crain’s Chicago Business suggesting that BP was costing itself a great deal of good public image when other anti-pollution options were readily accessible at relatively little cost. BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone said "we're not aware of any technology that will get us to those limits but we'll work to develop a project that allows us to do so." According to the Tetra Tech study reviewed by Crain's, however, several types of anti-pollution devices have been employed in other facilities would remove ammonia and suspended solids from waste water "estimated to cost less than $30 (million) to $40 million.”

Image via London Rising Tide