Chicago Tribune Headline: “Indiana Gives BP a Pass on Mercury”

June/28/2013 5:26AM
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The Chicago Tribune, once self-billed as the World’s Greatest Newspaper, has become the National Inquirer. A few years ago the Tribune created a big stir when the EPA and the Indiana EPA issued BP a permit for a $3 billion  project to refine more Canadian crude oil at the Whiting, Indiana, plant. Politicians jumped on the Tribune bandwagon. BP was going to dump massive amounts of mercury into  Lake Michigan. Mayor Daley, Dick Durbin, and even my Congressman, Peter Roskum were all over that. It all died down and they extracted a few million from BP for added equipment to reduce the eight pounds of incremental mercury to what is probably 2 ounces and the project proceeded. It’s ongoing.

Sunday the Tribune decided it was time to light this fire again. The article stretched for paragraphs. But, there were only two key numbers in the entire article. First, Federal researchers estimate that 880 pounds of mercury drop into Lake Michigan every year. Most comes from coal-fired power plants in the area. Next, the treatment plant at the Whiting Refinery discharged between one-tenth of a pound and 2 pounds annually. If the refinery met the standards it would be eight-hundredths of a pound. The Tribune wants BP punished to get from one-tenth of a pound to eight-hundredths of a pound and not worry about the other 879 pounds of mercury going into the lake. I’m serious, that’s it, a two page, front-page article that buries the payoff but absolutely makes you believe BP is destroying Lake Michigan with approval from the Indiana EPA.

The next day, Monday, the same Tribune ran an article explaining the high gasoline prices in Chicago. The paper actually endorsed fracking in Southern Illinois and called for the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Here’s a little information that the paper hats at the Tribune can’t impart due to lack of effort and interest.

BP is selling their refineries in the US. Or, mostly just giving them away. BP is not long for this hostile country. They brought it on themselves. A refinery explosion at the Texas City refinery, a leak in a pipeline in Alaska, and of course, the mess in the Gulf. The buyers are not the size of BP  with big pockets to spend $3-4 billion to build a unit to process Canadian crude oil. When this project is done, if it ever gets done, BP is gone.

When the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, has a turnaround, or takes a unit down for maintenance, the price of gasoline goes up a dollar in Chicago.  All other pipelines bringing finished gasoline to Chicago are  full. Without the 375 bbl. per day Whiting Refinery, Chicago gasoline prices would be $10 a gallon. But, a lot of people want that refinery gone. Not the poor people in Gary, Indiana, or in the south side of Chicago who can’t afford today’s gasoline prices, but elites like the reporter from the Tribune and members of the militant environmental groups.

I find it very hard to defend BP. I never worked for BP but my old Amoco friends who did have nothing good to say about the way the company operates. But, the BP refinery is Chicago’s best friend.

Some day, when BP walks away and some shallow pockets company buys the refinery, the good people of the Chicago are will find out what a good friend BP was. They spent a lot of money upgrading the place and keeping it running at near max capacity.  After all , it’s well over a hundred years old and it needs a lot of attention. No new refineries get built because of the very people who are making headlines over a few ounces of mercury. Not pounds, but ounces.

Just think about that. What editorial staff says lets trash BP again, it’s about time. Bury the facts and let’s see if we can get the politicians and citizens all worked up again. It worked last time. Maybe we can stop the project again and add a few more million to the cost. No one will notice the scale of the problem. Ounces against a 879 pound problem.

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