Citizens, politicians, EPA face off over BP refinery discharges

Good old-fashioned fury continues to build over Indiana’s decision to grant oil giant BP permission to increase discharges of ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan. A group of eight shoreline mayors has formed a task force to fight the plan. Tens of thousands of residents have signed petitions. Last week, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a resolution introduced by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.) that urges Indiana to reconsider the move. And lawmakers have met with officials and BP reps to ask them to put the refinery permit on hold. So how did U.S. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson respond to the pleas of an entire nation? With half-assed talk about supporting the permit and pledging to work with companies, including BP, to improve the condition of the Great Lakes. “The administrator’s comments aren’t surprising, but they are unacceptable,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Waukegan, Ill., Mayor Richard Hyde called the whole situation “mind-baffling.”