The Tribune has a great article out today on the fight over BP's effort to expand its oil refinery in Whiting, IN. For many months now, environmental groups and local lawmakers have tried to block or delay the expansion, noting that BP's claims about how much pollution the ...
The Tribune has a great article out today on the fight over BP's effort to expand its oil refinery in Whiting, IN. For many months now, environmental groups and local lawmakers have tried to block or delay the expansion, noting that BP's claims about how much pollution the expanded plant will produce are overly optimistic. As the protests have grown louder, BP has received the necessary air permits will little trouble, first from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, then from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As the Tribune piece makes clear, over at the EPA, the left hand clearly isn't watching what the right hand is doing:
Federal regulators signed off on the BP permit late last month, seven months after the Environmental Protection Agency accused the company of repeatedly violating pollution limits on existing flares at the refinery.
For at least five years, the EPA wrote in a November complaint, the refinery's flares have routinely exceeded limits on sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Sulfur dioxide is an ingredient in smog and soot that can trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments; hydrogen sulfide is a pungent gas that can cause fatigue.
Officials at the EPA's regional office in Chicago said the ongoing enforcement action and the permit review are separate matters.
During the agency's investigation, regulators were stymied in their attempt to calculate the total amount of pollution emitted by BP's flares. Most of the devices were not equipped with pollution monitors until recently, said George Czerniak, the EPA's regional chief of air enforcement.
Call me crazy, but the EPA officials signing off on new air permits for the facility probably should have noticed that the company was under investigation for violating emissions limits.