We welcome BP's "promise" today to "not make use of the higher discharge limits" recently granted them by the State of Indiana. This is a welcome first step that BP has, perhaps belatedly, realized how much the people of this region love and depend on Lake Michigan, our Great Lake.
We now challenge BP to make this commitment not just in a press release, but in the legally binding permit they will operate under. That is the only way that the 12 million people who relay on Lake Michigan for drinking water will know for sure that the Clean Water Act will be there to enforce BP's new promise. Fixing the permit to require better pollution controls would add penalties if they fail to make good on this new commitment. That is the strongest guarantee that the people of this region can have that their water will get the best protection.
Every day Sierra Club works with other ammonia dischargers, mostly local governments on a strict budget, in this region to help them reduce their ammonia discharges to protect area waters. We stand ready to help BP identify solutions to help them avoid increasing ammonia discharges to the Lake. We are confident that if cash-strapped communities in Illinois can do it, so can BP.
Putting the promise in the permit will give this welcome new commitment the force of law. It will also erase the bad precedent the State of Indiana set by granting the original permit, and raise the bar for other industrial polluters around our Great Lake.
Put the promise in the permit, not just the press release.