Reading between the lines.

There is an editorial in the Chicago Tribune today that really shouldn’t surprise me. The Tribune is wildly conservative. They supported Bush for the past two elections and that pretty much means that I will ignore most of what they write about. However, this editorial was emailed to me and thus, it will not be ignored.

Dennis Byrne? You are an idiot.

He happened to write this today. Let’s have a read shall we?

Filtering the facts from the fallacies of BP controversy

August 20, 2007

U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is correct to call for congressional hearings into government approval given to BP for a $3.8 billion upgrade to its northwest Indiana gasoline refinery.

Just as long as the hearings help to clarify and correct the barrels of misinformation and distortions swamping the debate over the massive project that will bring cheaper and more abundant gasoline to the Midwest. The distortions have been sloshing around now for more than a month after approval of the project by federal and state regulators came under fire. A public summit of the major players in the controversy last week seemed to do little to clear them up.

Take the issue of “backsliding”: Can any additional “pollutants,” no matter how infinitesimal or harmless, be discharged into to the nation’s lakes, rivers and streams, even if they are legal and within federal and state limits, as BP’s are?

Some critics, such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would go so far as to inaccurately suggest that any additional discharges are illegal. As he said in a letter to Benjamin Grumbles, the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, “A specific provision in the federal Clean Water Act prohibits any downgrade in water quality near a pollution source even if discharge limits are met.”

Well, yes, but there’s a legal exception, according to the EPA, that he fails to mention, either from ignorance or mendacity: “Anti-backsliding provisions of the [Clean Water Act] contain an exception where material and substantial alterations to the permitted facility justify the application of less stringent effluent limitations…to accommodate important economic or social development.” Regulators correctly determined that the economic and social benefits of the refinery expansion meet that requirement.

Other critics don’t go as far. They regard the exemption as a “loophole” that BP will use to “foul” Lake Michigan. Such claims usually are made without precise evidence about how the discharges will “foul” the lake, endanger the water supply or lead to horrific events that might justify the critics’ hysteria.

For example, in ranting about the relatively small amount of ammonia allowed into the lake, the critics ignore the fact that ammonia is not a bioaccumulative chemical. It breaks down in the water. If it didn’t, all the fish in the Great Lakes might have disappeared eons ago from swimming in their own urine.

Also conveniently missing from the debate is the context that could be provided by comparing BP with other industrial and city “dischargers.” According to the EPA, BP’s 4,925 pounds of suspended solids allowed a day compares with 16,630 at International Steel Group’s East Chicago plant and 121,861 at its Burns Harbor facility. Ispat Industries’ East Chicago plant is allowed 130,453 pounds, about 27 times BP’s limit. Chicago, of course, is on another planet, permitted 243,000 pounds, almost 50 times BP’s. Maybe Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is threatening to sue BP, ought to sue himself. Except, I suppose that Chicago’s discharges don’t count because they aren’t into the lake; they’re just gifted to the Illinois river system.

Note also might be taken of the fact that no ammonia limits are imposed on a bunch of papermakers and cities such as Milwaukee and Green Bay. Chicago’s allowable ammonia discharge (from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) is 61,000 pounds, compared with BP’s 1,584.

Considering these facts, Stephen Elbert, BP America vice chairman, should have said at last week’s summit, “Nuts. You don’t want our jobs and economic development? We’ll take them elsewhere.” Instead, he went well beyond what is required and promised to look at suggested alternatives to cleaning up the plant’s discharges. But, he added, any discharge alternative will have to “fall within the economic boundaries of the project,” a perfectly legitimate position.

Mary Gade, EPA Midwest regional administrator, probably said the smartest thing all day when she asked everyone to get beyond the headlines and emotions and begin a more practical discussion.

The issue is larger than BP. In a way, it’s a test of national importance of whether we can balance legitimate environmental and economic concerns. Of whether we can avoid couching the debate, as did Ann Alexander, a local Natural Resources Defense Council attorney, in such destructive and extreme terms as “sacrificing Lake Michigan in the name of oil addiction.” Of whether politics will run roughshod over the public interest. Of whether demagoguery and emotion will trump facts and reason. Of whether radical environmentalism will prevail over science.


idiots make leah's head explode

(that is my head exploding by this man’s stupid arguments)

Let’s go over why he thinks BP should be allowed to dump more pollution into Lake Michigan.

1. Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?

So…he thinks BP is right, simply because other people are already dumping and dumping more of it. Well! In that case, let’s just let everyone dump in the lake! Everyone else already is. Right Dennis? Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that make it worse? Maybe, and this is a wild and crazy guess here, this is an effort to curb the corporate dumping into Lake Michigan. A first step, so to speak.

2. Ammonia is supposedly non-toxic…..

OK. This one really makes me irritated. So, according to this author, ammonia will naturally break down and not hurt anyone. Hmm. Well first off, I don’t trust you Dennis. Sorry but that argument about the fish pee thing? Not buying it. And second, Chicago already has days where you can’t swim in the water. How on earth will dumping a chemical into the lake not hurt the quality of water? And what about the mercury, which is probably the issue that most people besides Dennis are worried about?

3. Cheap Oil

I could drive over to this man’s house and give him a swift kick in the ass. Cheap oil? Are you kidding me? Seriously, just because there is a BP chemical plant near us certainly doesn’t mean that we will get cheaper oil and more jobs. Not. At. All. BP is almost at least 10 cents more per gallon….ALWAYS! And the jobs thing? How does dumping more pollutants from an already existing plant, create more jobs? The dudes who will dump the magical non-toxic ammonia? Is that it Dennis?

Here’s my issue, he is trying to bulk up a conservative argument, obviously meant to rally up heated emotions, (hmm reminds me of someone….hmmm), by trying to sound intelligent. Take this sentence:

“it’s a test of national importance of whether we can balance legitimate environmental and economic concerns”

Can someone please, yet again, explain to me how this will economically help the nation? He is twisting emotions about a topic of great concern to people today. It is manipulative. And, quite frankly, I haven’t fallen for it.

If you haven’t already sign this petition: Take Action

And for heaven’s sake, let’s all go read something intelligent today. Maybe rid our brains of the neo-conservative rhetoric and actually learn something of value.

Have a lovely Monday, my fair readers. Spread love and intelligence. Because we all know, that’s the key to a happy life.


2 responses to “Reading between the lines.

  1. Just a bit of an edit: My father emailed this correction to me: “Just a note so you can correct a part of your blog, BP’s refinery doesn’t just supply British Petrol stations. All of our gas pretty much comes from just a few sources, there’s only about 150 refineries in the US and most, if not all, of our products come from them. My guess is this refinery supplies gas and oil products to many many states through distribution who sell to all different kinds of gas stations”.

    So! Scratch that whole 10 cents per gallon thing. And I still think this just proves my point that the dumping will not somehow alter gas prices.

  2. About that ammonia thing…

    Perhaps an occasional *tiny* amount of ammonia to vastly greater parts of water will cause it to ‘naturally’ break down*… but if you keep putting more and more amounts of ammonia in a body of water, you’re continually changing the chemical make up of the liquid… and guess what, ammonia ain’t gonna break down faster for it… it’s eventually going to slow to a build up.

    *In addition, I don’t know so much about ‘breaking down’ as becoming diluted…

    Chem 101, Dennis.

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