BP factory in Whiting, Indiana

The recent news of the BP Whiting Refinery has caused a stir of confusion and anger, especially among environmentalists who worried that the state is allowing BP to release "significant amounts" of pollutants such as ammonia and sludge from its Whiting refinery into Lake Michigan.

The "cause and effect" between energy production and pollution has been in the debate for years. A parallel case in point - the increased number and usage of vehicles on the road will lead to air and noise pollution. But can we stop the use of vehicles on the road? Until the day when electric or "green" vehicles are proven feasible and adopted by the masses, and/or people finding it fast, convenient and cheap to commute to work by public transportation, there will always be vehicles on the road. Meantime, we already have legislations and controlled measures that are enforced such as to carbon emission, and smog test, to help ease the pollution problem. There are also carpool lanes to encourage "car-sharing" , thus reducing the number of vehicles on the road. This is what I consider controlled management of pollution and waste.

What's similar between the above and the BP- Lake Michgan issue? As Indiana's economic development increasingly depends on energy, the BP Whiting Refinery needs to process additional heavy crude oil from Canada, a secure and reliable source. Controlled measures have been put in place to handle the foreseen additional waste issue as a result of added capacity of the oil refinery. For example,

1. Residents can be assured that only treated water is going into Lake Michigan. What is released from the Whiting refinery is treated water - more than 99.9% water - not sludge. All sludge is treated separately, according to state and federal requirements, and will not be discharged into Lake Michigan. There should be no cause of concern of heavy pollutants in the lake.

2. BP Whiting refinery will be using modern technology to improve its refinery's wastewater treatment capability. This will ensure controlled minimal amount of waste solids in the water before they are discharged.

3. It needs to be reassured that BP follow state and federal laws, regulations, and guidelines that protect aquatic and human life. There should not be harm to people or the environment in view of the refinery increased capacity to process heavy crude oils.

After reviewing these facts, there should not be great cause for concern.