I am a chemist. That's my day to day job. I do chemistry. Specifically I do water chemistry (okay, some food chemistry too but mostly water). The largest portion of my work is discharge. Everything that is discharged into either the sewers for treatment or the ocean has to be tested. It has to meet certain levels of bacterial and chemical contaminants. If they exceed their assigned levels they are fined.
Apparently BP in Whiting, IN has received permission from the government to dump more into Lake Michigan. They are now allowed to dump more ammonia and sludge. The Chicago Tribune ran an article about it. Since I'm not a fan of the "media" I read it with a jaundiced eye. I find it interesting that environmentalist decided that less mid-east oil dependency is not a good enough trade off for some increased pollution. Now I am not a fan of pollution in any way shape or form. But if we are going to live the type of lives we've established and the environmentalists won't allow us to build nuclear power plants or new oil refineries, some sacrifices have to be made. There is a much more balanced article about this issue written by the News-Sentinel. BP has also put out a fact sheet with the info from their side.
BP will be refining oil from Canada. Now I don't know about you, but any way we can reduce our dependency on oil from the mid-east or Venezuela is a good idea to me. It's not an issue of the price going down, it's an issue of where it's coming from.
Also, just doing what I do for a living leads me to believe that this is not as bad as it sounds. The EPA, who didn't contest this increase, would never allow excessive pollution just for the sake of oil. We have an issue going on in Hawaii right now where the EPA is totally wrong but are sticking to their guns because of perceived pollution effects. So I can not see them allowing that. Also, BP can increase their ammonia discharge 54%. Does that increase bring it above allowable levels??? Or is it just an increase but still below federal regulations?? According to BP a 54% increase is still less than half the allowable limits.
Finally, BP is going to modernize the facility to the tune of $3 billion dollars. This will not only increase jobs during the modernization, it will increase jobs when the plant is complete. Did you know we have not built a new refinery in this country in almost 30 years? Do you know why?? Environmentalists!! Yep. Refineries pollute. Do you think that we've made any progress in 30 years as far as cleaner refineries? I bet we have and I be BP is going to incorporate those advances in their facility.
This is one of those issues that just piss me off. People look at one aspect of it and start jumping up and down and beating their chests. Oh My God, they are going to destroy Lake Michigan. You can not view things in a vacuum. You have got to look at the big picture. Buying oil from Canada reduces our dependency on the middle east. Refining it here could reduce costs, supply more jobs, and help the Indiana economy (which ultimately helps the countries economy). Is this worth the cost of little extra pollution?? I think it could be. As a chemist who deals with this day in and day out, I can say that the regulations are tight. Very tight. And sometimes you have to loosen up in one area to make another area work. Things do not exist in a vacuum.
Ultimately, I would like to see us develop alternative energy sources. I would like to see hydrogen cars. I would like to see more, new nuclear power plants. I would like to see oil a thing of the past. Or, and this will cause an uproar, environmentally friendly drilling of Alaska. We have the technology, we could do it.
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