Stabenow, Levin Question EPA about BP Dumping into Lake Michigan
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Carl Levin (D-MI) yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, requesting that the EPA certify that BP PLC's Whiting, Indiana facility's increased dumping levels do not pose a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. This letter comes in response to a recent decision made by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to permit the additional discharge of waste at the BP plant into Lake Michigan.
The full text of the letter follows.
July 31, 2007
The Honorable Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Johnson,
We are writing to express our concerns regarding the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's recent decision to allow BP PLC's Whiting, Indiana facility to increase the amount of ammonia and total suspended solids they can discharge into Lake Michigan daily, and we are writing to ensure that the permit complies with the law. This new permit will allow BP to discharge an average of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of total suspended solids daily into Lake Michigan.
The Great Lakes account for 95% of the United States' surface freshwater and provide drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. While there have been significant improvements in the health of the Great Lakes over the last several decades, fish consumption advisories and beach closures persist, and studies indicating that a considerable amount of shoreline in the Great Lakes region is polluted.
Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has oversight authority over state environmental agencies, we respectfully request that you provide written assurances that:
* 1) As provided by Section 402(d) of the Clean Water Act, Indiana's granting of the permit was reviewed by the EPA and did not meet the standards for objection "as being outside the guidelines and requirements" of the Clean Water Act.
* 2) As provided by Section 301(b)(2)(A) of the Clean Water Act, the permit meets the Best Available Technologies requirement.
* 3) Water Quality in Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes will not be adversely affected by the new allowances for ammonia and sludge dumping by BP Whiting.
We would also like you to explain why a permit that increases the discharge of ammonia and sludge was reissued despite the "anti-backsliding" prohibitions as provided by Section 402(0) of the Clean Water Act. And finally, please explain whether BP considered other options for managing the increased effluent levels. And, if BP considered alternative disposal options, what was BP's rationale for not choosing them, and deciding instead to discharge them into Lake Michigan?
We agree with the President's 2004 Executive Order that the Great Lakes are one of our nation's greatest treasures, and we should carefully consider all new discharges into them. Allowing the dumping of more pollutants into the Great Lakes undermines the progress we have made to clean up these national treasures.
We understand that additional refinery capacity may be needed in the Midwest, but we believe this can be achieved in an environmentally sound manner. We remain committed to protecting Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes, and we look forward to your response to our request.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senator Carl Levin