"Echoes of Gulf Spill Ripple in BP's Midwest Refinery Expansion"

"Almost 1,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, BP PLC is pressing ahead with a $3.8 billion expansion of the largest refinery in the Midwest -- and facing off with environmental groups over controls aimed at preventing a gusher-style release of chemicals into the air.

The two-year clash over BP's refinery modernization in Whiting, Ind., where the company aims to process more high-sulfur crude from Canadian oil sands, touches on some of the same thorny political issues that continue to dog the Gulf recovery effort. In both regions, the industry's bottom line and its value as a job creator is being pitted against local green advocates' skepticism about the ability of regulators to effectively rein in pollution.

'Putting economics above public safety and the environment appears to be a pervasive practice' at BP, said Environmental Law and Policy Center senior attorney Faith Bugel, whose group joined a 2008 petition against the company's Whiting expansion permit. 'If there's a loophole, the practice appears to be to find their way through it. Our concern is that what happened in the Gulf doesn't happen here.'"

Elana Schor reports for Greenwire August 6, 2010.

Monday, August 9, 2010