August 15, 2007

Summit on BP Pollution Proposal

I participated in a summit today at USEPA regional headquarters in Chicago on BP's proposal to increase pollution to Lake Michigan as part of their Whiting refinery expansion.

At the summit, there were many good ideas about how BP can do better - from citizen groups, the City of Chicago, and others. BP and Indiana didn't accept the recommendations, or commit to accepting them if they prove to be workable, but they didn't rule them out, either.

The closer we look at BP's proposal the more questions we have. I asked BP today about their mercury emissions, both directly into the lake in their wastewater, and through the air as part of a sludge incinerator they were operating on the property. They weren't prepared to answer that, but ultimately announced that they closed the incinerator in February of this year. If that's true, that is probably a postive step, although they didn't say where the sludge is going now.

Congressman Rahm Emmanuel did a great job of making crystal clear how angry and exercised the public and their elected officials are about this. He said that Lake Michigan is "our Grand Canyon, our Yellowstone," and claimed that BP wasn't being totally honest with the public about their reasons for avoiding full treatment of their effluent.

Unless BP wants to undo all the work they have done, and money they have spent, to build their image as a green company, at least in this major market, one has to believe they will soon come to their senses and adopt some of the promising alternatives that are coming forward from a variety of sources.

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