Alliance for the Great Lakes
For Immediate Release
Friday, August 24, 2007
Contact: Cameron Davis, 312-375-2004 (cell)
Judge Agrees to Hear Case against BP Pollution Permit
CHICAGO A judge has agreed to hear an Alliance petition challenging the controversial water pollution discharge permit that allows fuel giant BP to release more pollution into Lake Michigan.
The judges decision to set a hearing for Oct. 30 came just days before BP announced Thursday that the company will adhere to its previous pollution limits rather than take advantage of the new, higher allowances afforded by Indiana regulators.
The petitioner has stated sufficient facts to raise legal issues regarding whether a legal exception applies in this instance, Judge Catherine Gibbs wrote in her order, meaning that the Alliance can make its case that an appeal of BPs permit should be allowed despite the expiration of the pre-established appeal period.
The judges validation of concerns about state regulators processing of the water pollution permit contradicts Indiana Gov. Mitch Danielss statement this week to the Gary Post-Tribune, in which he called the Alliances claim about permit processing irregularities horsefeathers.
Though pleased with BPs announcement that it wont increase pollution, Alliance President Cameron Davis called for assurances in the discharge permit that bind BP to its commitment, and said the Alliance will continue its legal challenge to ensure that commitment is locked into place.
Citizens have a right to ensure that government decisions affecting the Great Lakes use the best policy, technology and efforts, Davis said. The real story here is that people want a new standard of care for the Great Lakes. They dont want to see the absence of more harm. They dont want to see the status quo. They want to see the regions waterways proactively restored.
Filed Aug. 15 with Indiana's Office of Environmental Adjudication, the petition questions the state's handling of the discharge permit it granted BP to expand its Whiting, Ind. refinery and seeks both a stay of the permit and a re-opening of the public appeal process.
The lawsuit states that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management effectively kept the Alliance and other stakeholders out of the formal appeal process by failing to notify them that a final permit had been issued. The agency now says the 15-day period in which the public could appeal the permit a period that starts as soon as interested parties receive notice of the permit has already expired.
BP has been under fire since earlier this summer, when it received a permit to discharge nearly 1,500 pounds of ammonia and 5,000 pounds of suspended solids from treated sludge into Lake Michigan daily -- increases of 54 percent and 35 percent respectively. The permit further gives BP until 2012 to meet current strict federal limits for discharging mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin.
The petition is online at http://www.greatlakes.org/news/pdf/Petition-Indiana.081407.doc
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest independent citizens' organization in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More information is online at www.greatlakes.org.
Alliance for the Great Lakes