EPA suggests wishy-washy compromise in Indiana BP permit mess

Officials from the U.S. EPA have stepped in to quell the furor over a controversial permit the state of Indiana granted to a BP refinery. The permit will allow BP to discharge more ammonia and sludge into Lake Michigan — at legal limits, but increased over previous amounts. Residents and politicians in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and nationwide are up in arms over the decision: several city councils have passed resolutions opposing it, as has the U.S. House of Representatives; at least one Chicago alderman is calling for a BP boycott; and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has called for a review of the state’s permitting process. So what’s EPA’s solution to the whole mess? The agency, meeting with company officials today, will nicely ask BP to invest in nearby pollution-reduction projects like sewer upgrades and shoreline restoration. “If BP can’t or won’t do more at its own facility,” says EPA regional administrator Mary Gade, “perhaps they can do more to protect the lake in other ways.”