City of Whiting’s Position on BP’s Water Permit

Recent news articles regarding the BP water permit have created the false impression in some readers minds that the City of Whiting is responsible for authorizing increased levels of pollutants to be discharged into Lake Michigan. We also feel it is important to note that a Chicago Tribune article included several inconsistencies that at best are misleading. The following is offered to help clarify these erroneous impressions. The BP refinery is a facility situated in Whiting as well as the neighboring municipalities of Hammond and East Chicago. During the permitting process, the City of Whiting hosted a public hearing at the request of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Whiting was the only municipality to have representatives in attendance at this hearing. Whiting, like neighboring municipalities, has no statutory authority whatsoever to grant or deny environmental permits. This permitting process is conducted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and follows guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. BP s permit does not allow any sludge to be discharged into Lake Michigan. The City of Whiting believes that the expansion of the BP refinery benefits the Calumet Region as a whole. Although the City s immediate benefit is minimal (the portion of the expansion in Whiting will be virtually all property tax-exempt), we recognize the regional importance of job creation offered through the expansion, as well as the importance of a stable fuel supply for the Midwestern United States. In recognizing these benefits, however, we also appreciate the concerns voiced by many members of the public. The City of Whiting takes seriously the fact that environmental stewardship is the responsibility of everyone. The increase in water discharge is not expected to occur until some time after 2010. In an effort to make economic growth and environmental stewardship as compatible as possible, the City of Whiting urges BP a recognized environmental leader in the oil industry to use this time continuing to research and employ the necessary processes and technologies that will further reduce the volume of contaminants in its water discharge to the lake.