Monday, June 2, 2008

Illinois Dems Object To Indiana BP Whiting Permit

May 30: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Melissa Bean (D-IL), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), urged the Region 5 U.S. EPA Acting Administrator, Bharat Mathur to object to a permit for BP for its Whiting, Indiana refinery expansion that would allow to increase the levels of carbon dioxide and other emissions above previous levels. The permit refinery expansion was issued on May 1, 2008 by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to BP. On November 29, 2007, EPA Region 5 notified BP Products North America Inc. of alleged violations of multiple Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements at its Whiting, Indiana refinery [See WIMS 11/30/07].

The Illinois Democrats wrote to Mathur saying, “Increased carbon dioxide emissions at Whiting remain a major concern for us. Comments submitted by environmental organizations and others have raised this issue and ways in which it should be addressed in the permitting process. In particular, we have concerns regarding the issues of flaring and the increase of carbon dioxide and other emissions above the previous permit levels. We strongly encourage you to revisit those issues and object to the permit until IDEM and BP have rectified these problems.”

The Illinois members are primarily concerned with IDEM’s position that unplanned flaring does not have to be taken into account when issuing permits under the Clean Air Act. The permit allows BP to operate three new flares and increase the use of some existing flares. Refinery flaring is an enormous source of carbon dioxide and other emissions and there is little doubt that flaring events will occur in emergency and other situations at the expanded refinery site in Whiting. Yet, the permit issued by IDEM earlier this month essentially assumes that the new flares will, for the most part, never be used.

In their letter the Members say, "As a related matter, we are concerned with the failure of the draft operating permit to include a schedule of compliance as required by the Clean Air Act addressing the violations set forth in Region 5’s November 2007 Notice of Violation. We are informed that USEPA has recently taken the position that permitting and enforcement are separate matters, and that permit violations therefore need not be addressed in a Title V permit schedule of compliance. However, Section 503(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act expressly requires that Title V permit applicants “submit with the permit application a compliance plan describing how the source will comply with all applicable requirements under this chapter.”

Access a release from the Members and the complete letter (
click here). Access a detailed EPA Enforcement & Compliance history report on this facility (click here). Access extensive detailed information on the BP Whiting air permit from Indiana DEM (click here). Access the BP Whiting website for additional information (click here).