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The EPA’s Got Gas, But Not Green

By Diana Galban

epa2  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the BP gas company “green light” to dump even more amounts of waste, including mercury, into Lake Michigan.

It’s no secret the U.S. has a gas problem due to a lack of refineries to process crude oil. As a solution, BP, the fourth largest refinery in the country, is spending $3 billion in expansion to process heavy Canadian oil.

Unfortunately, increasing the amount of waste dumping is part of the deal. BP needed permission to do so, and on July 31 the Indiana Department of Environmental Management gave them the authorization. The EPA, a federal entity that is on a crusade to regulate the waste dumping in the Great Lakes, also approved the permit.

Why is this a problem? Lake Michigan, the second largest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water for 8 million people in Chicago, and other cities as well. The lake is also a recreational spot for families to swim, boat and fish. On top of that the Great Lakes represent 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water. Then there’s the lake’s tainted fish, some of which already carry “do not eat” warning labels for the elderly, pregnant women and children in super markets.

THE FACTS

  • BP gas company’s new permit increases the amount of waste it can dump into Lake Michigan
  • The waste dumping includes up to 1,584 pounds of ammonia daily, a 54% increase from the previous permit
  • It also allows other toxic substances like mercury, nickel and lead to be deposited in the lake
  • Lake Michigan supplies drinking water for 8 million people in Chicago, and other cities as well

This comes during a time when care for the environment is on a high. Major companies have gone green; Al Gore won an Oscar for his documentary; and even the Vans Warped Tour has become more eco-friendly.

The permit BP has gained will let them dump up to 1,584 pounds of ammonia daily, 54 percent more than the allowed amount in the previous permit. In addition, it allows other toxic substances like mercury, nickel and lead to be deposited in the lake.

The EPA says the permit is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. But environmentalists upset over the permit are not buying the EPA’s response. They have been gathering signatures for a petition to stop BP polluting in Lake Michigan.

“We cannot allow the more than 10 million people and countless plants and animals [that] depend on this lake to be put at risk,” Ann Alexander of the Natural Resources Defense Council told CBS news, “nor can we allow a few individuals with special interests to undo all that has been done to clean up the lake.”

Permitting waste dumping in Lake Michigan doesn’t just bring up concern regarding the increase of pollution in that particular area. If BP is able to unload their waste there, it opens the possibility for other companies to do the same throughout the country—and the states might not be able to prevent it.


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0 0 115 09 September, 2007 Advice, Health, Lifestyle, News September 9, 2007

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