Friday, October 3, 2008

President Bush Signs Great Lakes Compact Into Law

Oct 3: The Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG) applauded President George Bush for signing a joint resolution of Congress (S.J. Res. 45), providing consent to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The President’s action marks the final step in the Compact’s approval process thus enabling these historic protections to become law. In December 2005, following a nearly five-year negotiation, the Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reached agreement on the Compact.

CGLG said, "The Compact provides a comprehensive management framework for achieving sustainable water use and resource protection. The eight Great Lakes States reached a similar, good faith, agreement with Ontario and Qu├ębec in 2005, which the Provinces are using to amend their existing water programs for greater regional consistency." During 2007 and 2008, each of the eight Great Lakes State legislatures ratified the Compact. Legislative approval was completed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2008, and by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 23, 2008.

Access a release from CGLG (
click here). Access legislative details for S.J.Res.45 (click here). Access the CGLG Compact website for extensive information (click here). Access various WIMS-Great Lakes Environment Blog post on the Compact (click here).

EPA Amends BP Whiting CAA Violation Notice

Oct 2: U.S. EPA Region 5 has issued an amended notice and finding of violation to the BP Products North America for alleged Clean Air Act (CAA) violations at the company's petroleum refinery at 2815 Indianapolis Blvd., Whiting, IN. The action amends a notice and finding of violation issued to the BP Whiting refinery in November 2007 alleging BP violated the Clean Air Act by failing to get a permit when it modified one of its cracking units in 2005 [See WIMS 11/30/07].

EPA said it now has information suggesting that BP may have begun a project to process Canadian crude oil at the refinery in 2005 without the proper permit. BP received its construction permit for the project from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on May 1, 2008 [See WIMS 6/2/08]. EPA notes that these are preliminary findings of violation. BP has 30 days to request a meeting with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.

On July 9, 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a federal challenge to air permits given by the State of Indiana to the BP Whiting refinery. The case argues that BP and IDEM have not properly accounted for increases in dangerous pollution that will result from the refinery expansion [
See WIMS 7/14/08]. NRDC is challenging the facility’s construction permits in the Hammond Division of the Northern District of Indiana Federal court.

Access a release from EPA (click here). Access information from IDEM on the Air Permits (click here).

Great Lakes Water Conference November 14

Oct 2: The University of Toledo College of Law and its affiliated Legal Institute of the Great Lakes will hold their 8th annual Great Lakes Water Conference on Friday, November 14, 2008 at the University of Toledo College of Law. This year’s panels of experts will focus on Implementing the Compact, Transboundary Pollution (featuring a recent suit by a Canadian citizen against a Michigan power plant as a case study), and Groundwater Rights (and Wrongs) (providing context for understanding groundwater rights and Ohio’s proposed constitutional amendment). The keynote speaker will be Commissioner Sam Speck of the International Joint Commission. The conference is free to the public, and attorneys can earn 4.5 hours of CLE credits for $50.

Access an announcement (click here). Access a brochure, registration information and links to previous conferences (click here).

Groups Seek Signatures For Toxics-Free Great Lakes Pledge

Oct 2: Environmental groups are asking the leaders of the Canadian Federal parties to put their name to a pledge to make toxic pollution in the Great Lakes region a top priority. They said the Pledge for a Toxics-Free Great Lakes establishes the first steps for cleaning up the Great Lakes. The groups include: Canadian Environmental Law Association; Great Lakes United; and Ecojustice.

Specifically, the pledge asks leaders to: (1) Support the vision of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, signed by Canada and the United States, to work toward the elimination of persistent toxic substances in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. (2) Support the call for zero discharge of persistent toxic chemicals and other toxic substances in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem by: Establishing a phase out and elimination strategy for toxic substances; applying a reverse onus that will require chemical users, manufacturers, importers and sellers to demonstrate safety of chemicals before use; assessing and implementing safe alternatives; and applying the precautionary principle. (3) By 2012, complete all actions need for delisting 10 Areas of Concern, and all actions completed for the remaining Areas of Concerns in Canada by 2015. (4) Create a Great Lakes Clean Water Infrastructure fund to upgrade and 'green' municipal wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

Access a release (click here). Access links to background information, the pledge and find out who signs it (click here).