The House of Representatives voted 387-26 Wednesday in favor of a resolution condemning the state of Indiana’s permit to allow British Petroleum to increase its daily dumping of ammonia and mercury into Lake Michigan. The Resolution was triggered by last September’s joyful announcement from Governor Mitch Daniels and BP executives that the company – which touts its distinct British heritage as “making it as much a part of the UK landscape as football, tea drinking and the Royal Family” – planned to reconfigure its Whiting, Indiana, refinery to handle Canadian heavy crude oil processing. The company’s $3 billion investment is anticipated to create up to 80 new permanent full-time jobs and 2,500 construction jobs during the three-year construction phase.
The state says this is the largest capital investment it has ever had. Once the project is completed in 2011, the refinery will be able to supply motor fuel to about 6 million automobiles. Of course, in order to get BP to invest in its Whiting Foundry, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered incentives to assist in the company’s decision to expand its operations at the Whiting facility. The IEDC offered incentives including up to $450,000 in training grants and approximately $1.2 million in tax credits based on job creation and capital investment.
Additionally, the Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of Workforce Development will provide assistance in the form of infrastructure improvements and worker training. But of course, in expanding its current capacity, it also has to increase its dumping of toxic and hazardous materials straight into Lake Michigan.
BP – already one of the largest polluters along the Great Lakes – received permission from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be exempt from environmental laws that cap the amount of toxins discharged into the lake. The refinery’s discharges, which are expected to include 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more sludge daily, will remain within federal and state pollution water standards. While BP quibbles as to the characterization of its discharge as “sludge”, the total suspended solids (TSS) as well as the ammonia it intends to discharge into Lake Michigan can have a disastrous impact by blocking light from reaching submerged vegetation, thus setting into motion a process that, ultimately, results in aquatic destruction and fish kills.
And, no surprise, Souder was one of the 26 to vote against the Resolution – imagine that! Representative Souder is astute at spinning his losing position. Here is a short snippet from his news release:
“U.S. Rep. Mark Souder voted today to lower the cost of gasoline and reduce America’s reliance on Middle East oil by voting against H.Con.Res. 187, a resolution introduced by the House Democrat Caucus chairman that would express Congress’ disapproval of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM’s) issuance of a permit relating to BP’s Whiting refinery. Despite Souder’s objection, the Democrat-controlled House passed the non-binding resolution by an overwhelming majority. “
Wow! What a spin! And what a slap in the face to his own home state! Souder’s news release shows a complete disregard for the environment of Lake Michigan and environmental issues in general. While Souder spins the situation to try to “pin the tail on the donkey” and blame the Democrats, he totally ignores the fact that the vote was 387 for the Resolution and 26, I say 26, against the Resolution. Looks to me like an awful lot of Republicans joined the Democrats to vote for the Resolution; yet, conveniently, Souder doesn’t even put the vote tally in his press release.
Souder has decided that Americans need the increased oil and gas output more than they need to protect the largest fresh-water lake in the United States. He talks on the one hand about decreasing our reliance on oil, yet on the other hand he supports expansion of the Whiting Refinery. The difference is that the Whiting Refinery will be processing Canadian oil rather than Middle Eastern oil. And that makes it acceptable in his mind.