Obama Calls on EPW Committee to Examine Approved Lake Michigan Pollution
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent the following letter to Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), requesting hearings to examine the recent agreement between the State of Indiana and the BP Whiting Refinery to allow increased pollution into Lake Michigan, which borders Illinois' shorelines. This agreement represents many challenges of improving environmental restoration, including preventing increased pollution of shared water bodies and drinking water sources, as well as protecting the Great Lakes for future generations. Because of our country's limited refinery capacity, other states may soon be addressing this same problem with pollution discharges across state boundaries.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairman Boxer:
I am writing to request that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hold a hearing to examine the recent agreement between the State of Indiana and the BP Whiting Refinery to allow increased pollution discharges into Lake Michigan.
Several weeks ago, my constituents learned that a BP-owned refinery along the Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan was approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to release 54 percent more ammonia (up to 1,500 lbs daily) and 35 percent more sludge (4,900 lbs daily) into lake waters as part of a capacity expansion project. Increased discharges of mercury are also permitted.
This issue underscores the challenges faced by the United States as we pursue the dual goals of improved energy security and environmental restoration - issues such as full compliance with the Clean Water Act, the effect of pollutants on drinking water sources that cut across political boundaries, the ability to mitigate, prevent or offset increased discharges into shared water bodies, and the importance of safeguarding the Great Lakes for future generations. Because of the limited refinery capacity in this country, other jurisdictions may soon be addressing the same problem that the Great Lakes states are now facing with the pollution discharges from the BP Whiting Refinery.
I appreciate your consideration of my request, and I commend you for your long-time leadership on environmental issues.
United States Senator