Here’s a tough question.  What’s more important, increasing refinery capacity or keeping pollution down?  That’s the question facing folks in Whiting, Indiana BP is planning to expand it’s refinery.  The expansion will allow them to refine the heavier Canadian crude oil.  This will mean an increase in oil production and according to BP, some 2000 contract jobs during construction and 80 full time jobs when construction is done.  Not only that, but getting oil from Canada means that much less is needed from the Middle East.

The downside of this deal is that because BP has been given an exemption from state environmental laws, they’ll be releasing 54% more Ammonia and 35% more sludge into lake Michigan.  It’s easy to see the conflict.  There’s a lot of people that are very strongly opposed to allowing BP or anyone else to increase the amount of any pollutants into lake Michigan.

BP says that they only water they’re releasing treated water into lake Michigan is in fact 99.9% water and that sludge is treated separately according to state and federal regulations.  BP also says that while this new permit does allow them to increase the average amount of Ammonia but that those levels will still be less than half of what federal environmental guidelines allow.  BP is also planning to invest some $150 million to increase the capacity of their waste water treatment facility in Whiting.

Strictly in my own opinion, I think that it’s very important to modernize and increase our refinery capacity.  It’s an absolute shame that no new refineries have been built in.. how long has it been?  30 years or more?  Frankly there’s no excuse for that and it’s well past time that American refinery capacity be increased.  On the other hand, we need to keep our heads on straight when it comes to pollution and avoid increasing it anytime we can and continue to develop ways to reduce the damage being done.  If BP want’s to be seen as environmentally friendly then they’ll take any action they can that significantly reduces the level of pollution that comes from their facilities.


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