In response to a legal complaint from a coalition of environmental groups, the US Environmental Protection Agency is forcing the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to rewrite part of the air permit for BP's Whiting refinery.
GCM and its partner, the Indiana-based Calumet Project also added to the pressure by meeting with EPA earlier this year to raise issues about the environmental justice impacts of increased pollution from the refinery expansion and the use of dirtier tar sands crude oil.
In a press release the EPA noted:
Specifically, questions must be answered about emissions from flares,
residual emissions from vessel depressurization, increased emissions
from coking and coke drum depressurization, fugitive emissions from
reduced sulfur compounds and emission factors to account for
BP's application for an air permit to refine tar sands from Canada admitted that it would increase emissions of three pollutants by alarming amounts: Particulate Matter by 21%, Sulfur Dioxide by 20% and Lead by 25%. Also, the expansion will release 1.5 to 2 million tons more carbon dioxide greenhouse gas per year.
Particle pollution causes asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths. Sulfur dioxide makes acid rain and also creates deadly, fine particles that reach deep into the lungs. Lead can damage the kidneys, affect hearing, lower IQ, can result in delinquent behaviors, and the damage is permanent. The area is already over burdened with pollution.
An appeal of the permit based on environmental justice, filed by GCM and the Calumet Project, is currently as well as legal action concerning BP's commencement of the expansion construction without proper permits. In addition to having created the community pressure to stop the siting of an asphalt plant, the Calumet Project continues to use Bucket Brigades to sample the air.
Read more about the EPA's decision.