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Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style

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Presentation on theme: "Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style"— Presentation transcript:

1 Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style
Cheryl A. Heinz, Benedictine University

2 In the beginning… September 21, 2006
Michael Puente, reporting for Chicago Public Radio reports:

3 “Yesterday's announcement by British Petroleum that its investing $3 billion dollars in its Whiting, Indiana, refinery continues a winning streak of sorts for Northwest Indiana.”

4 “Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels visits Northwest Indiana almost weekly to make some sort of big gesture. Yesterday, Daniels helped announce the expansion that will allow the company to process heavy Canadian crude oil. Construction and staffing the expansion are expected to create 2,500 new jobs for the area.”

5 “Daniels says BP's investment is the latest in a string of new businesses or investment in the area.
‘We have said over and over to all our fellow citizens that every one of the 6.3 million Hoosiers has a stake in a stronger Northwest Indiana. We will only be the great state we want to be when this corner of our state reaches its full potential.’"

6 “The governor says the state has offered incentives that make doing business in Northwest Indiana affordable and attractive.”

7 The score so far … Money: $3 billion dollars from British Petroleum
Unknown incentives from state Jobs: 2,500

8 CQ#1: Are all of the costs of an expansion accounted for?
Definitely yes Maybe yes I’m not sure Maybe not Definitely not

9 CQ#2: How many people drink Lake Michigan water?
2 million 4 million 6 million 8 million 10 million 12 million

10 How many people drink Lake Michigan water?
The Chicago area alone represents about 6 million people hooked into the Lake Michigan water supply. (And many “collar” counties do not receive Lake Michigan water!) How many people drink Lake Michigan water?

11 More from WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight 7/18/2007, Speaking to Michael Hawthorne of the Chicago Tribune “License to Dump?” License to Dump? Eight forty-eight July 18, 2007 (nearly 7min) BP’s plan to dump more industrial waste into Lake Michigan is drawing strong criticism on Capitol Hill, and several Great Lakes lawmakers want the EPA to put a halt to the plan. Their reaction comes in response to recent news that Indiana regulators have given the oil giant the green light to refine heavier Canadian crude oil at the company’s Whiting, Indiana, refinery. Refining heavy oil produces more industrial waste than regular crude. And now the refinery – one of the oldest and biggest in the country – will be allowed to release 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more so-called “total suspended solids” into the lake every day. Joining us is Michael Hawthorne, who’s been covering the story for the Tribune. Music Button: Charlie Parker “Hot House” from the CD box set Yardbird Suite (Rhino Records)

12 CQ#3: Which nutrient level in the lake is expected to be most affected by this refinery expansion?
Carbon Water Nitrogen Sulfur Phosphorus None of the above

13 Indiana Agency responds
City Room, produced by Michael Puente, Saturday, July 21, 2007 “Indiana Agency Defends BP Approval” Indiana Agency Defends BP Approval Produced by Michael Puente on Saturday, July 21, 2007 (<1min) The state of Indiana is defending its decision to allow oil giant BP to discharge more contaminants into Lake Michigan. Chicago Public Radio’s Michael Puente reports from our Northwest Indiana Bureau. *** The head of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management insists no harm will come when BP’s Whiting Refinery begins to discharge higher amounts of chemicals into Lake Michigan. It’s part of a massive multi-billion-dollar expansion at BP. Agency director Thomas Easterly says Indiana will monitor BP’s slightly higher discharge into the lake. EASTERLY: The plant’s discharge will not affect drinking water, recreation or aquatic life in Lake Michigan. All the waste water must be treated before it’s released. No sludge will be dumped into Lake Michigan. IDEM protects valuable water resources, including Lake Michigan." Easterly says Indiana informed Illinois about BP’s actions prior to approval. Politicians and environmentalists from Chicago and elsewhere are looking to thwart BP’s actions. I'm Michael Puente, Chicago Public Radio

14 CQ#4: Can increased pollution be allowed in a major source of drinking water?
Unqualified yes Qualified yes Uncertain Qualified no Unqualified no

15 How can we understand the possible effects?
Scientists who study how nutrients (and pollutants) cycle through the environment are generally biogeochemists.

16 General schematic: Nutrient cycling

17 Nutrient cycles Compartments: ways of subdividing an ecosystem; are very flexible in definition. Can be “plants” in one scheme, “sunflowers” in the next, and “Helianthis tuberosa” in another. Different compartments can be at different levels: “Grasses” in one compartment and “Lions” in another.

18 Generalized nutrient cycle schematic

19 A little more detail…

20 Nutrient cycles For a nutrient to cycle globally, there must be a volatile phase: Phosphorus cycles locally Stays within an ecosystem Not very mobile No mechanism for long-distance travel Nitrogen cycles globally N2 gas moves easily from place to place

21 CQ#5: Does water cycle locally or globally?
CQ#5: Does water cycle locally or globally? Locally Globally I’d have to guess 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

22 Global water cycle

23 CQ#6: To what extent is the refinery expansion expected to affect the water cycle?
Greatly Some A little Not at all

24 Generalized case of nutrient cycling through a forest

25 Global nitrogen cycle

26 CQ#7: Where will the refinery impact the nitrogen cycle the most?
More nitrogen in the air (N2) More nitrogen in the water More nitrogen in the soil All of the above None of the above

27 Cycling nutrients Besides water, phosphorus, nitrogen, & carbon, sulfur also cycles through our environment. Wet deposition = acid rain

28 Some numbers BP says it would increase CO2 emissions by 20% (though their own studies range up to 50%) The equivalent of another 200,000 to 400,000 more cars in terms of air pollution Nitrous oxides could exceed limits by 11 times Carbon monoxide by 5 times Source:

29 Global carbon cycle

30 CQ#8: Where will the refinery impact the carbon cycle the most?
More carbon dioxide in the air (CO2) More carbon in the water More carbon in the soil Same impact in air, water, and soil No effect on the carbon cycle

31 Some numbers Into the lake: Into the air: 54% more ammonia (NH3)
35% more sludge (suspended solids) Into the air: 20-50% more CO2 Nitrous oxides 11 times the limit Carbon monoxide 5 times the limit

32 CQ#9: Which cycle(s) will be most impacted by the refinery expansion?
Water cycle Carbon cycle Sulfur cycle Nitrogen cycle All of the above None of the above

33 EPA steps in City Room, produced by Michael Puente, 1 Aug 2007
“EPA Has No Plans to Stop BP Chemical Dump” EPA Has No Plans to Stop BP Chemical Dump Produced by Michael Puente on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 Despite a public outcry, the federal EPA has no plans to stop BP from dumping more chemicals into Lake Michigan. Chicago Public Radio's Michael Puente reports from our Northwest Indiana Bureau. ** The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the state of Indiana did nothing wrong in granting a permit to oil giant BP. The permit allows BP to dispose of more ammonia from its Whiting refinery. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, who was appointed by President Bush, visited Chicago this week. He says BP's permit, as approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Managemen, complies fully with the Clean Water Act. Johnson says the EPA must honor the permit. Even with the EPA's blessings, Chicago area lawmakers in Congress continue to push BP to stop plans to dump higher amounts of ammonia. Local environmental groups are also calling for BP to change its plans. BP says it will need the higher capacity when it begins to process heavier Canadian crude oil following a near $4 billion expansion at the refinery. I'm Micheal Puente Chicago Public Radio.

34 Mayor Daley’s reaction
City Room, produced by Mike Rhee, 1 Aug 2007 “Mayor Daley Says BP Dumping Unacceptable” Mayor Daley Says BP Dumping Unacceptable Produced by Mike Rhee on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says BP's plans to dump more pollutants into Lake Michigan is unacceptable. Chicago Public Radio's Mike Rhee reports. ** Federal regulators have given BP's oil refinery in Northwest Indiana the green light to dump more ammonia and sludge into the lake. Daley says the pollution would threaten more than the area's drinking water. DALEY: Because that's gonna eventually affect not just Lake Michigan but all the Great Lakes. Daley says he's written Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and has spoken with U.S. Congressmen about stopping BP. He says if discussions don't work, legal action is a possibility. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the refinery would be within legal pollution limits. But Daley argues: DALEY: This is We should do much better. BP is planning a four billion dollar expansion of its refinery in Whiting, Indiana. I'm Mike Rhee, Chicago Public Radio.

35 CQ#10: Over time, does Indiana stand to gain from the expansion?
Proximately yes, ultimately yes Proximately yes, ultimately no Proximately no, ultimately yes Proximately no, ultimately no Not sure

36 Why Indiana said yes City Room, produced by Michael Puente, 3 Aug 2007
“Jobs Versus Environment in Northwest Indiana” Jobs Versus Environment in Northwest Indiana Produced by Michael Puente on Friday, August 03, 2007 Photo from BP Jobs, jobs and more jobs. That’s long been the mantra of Northwest Indiana, where unemployment is higher than the national average. Many of the region’s highest paying jobs have been in the looming steel and oil refining plants along Lake Michigan. Protecting those jobs and the natural resources around the plants is often a balancing act. That balance has been tested in a firestorm of controversy in recent weeks, over oil giant BP’s plan to discharge more chemicals into Lake Michigan. Chicago Public Radio’s Michael Puente brings us this report from our Northwest Indiana Bureau in Chesterton. *** Four-billion dollars. Thousands of construction and temporary jobs. As many as 80 full-time permanent, high-paying jobs. That’s what many people in Indiana see at stake in the BP expansion. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is one of them. DANIELS: "Here’s one of the biggest steps forward for the Midwest and really the whole nation and I don’t think it should be held up without a good scientific reason and none has been provided." BP wants to make changes to its Whiting, Indiana refinery so it can process much more Canadian crude oil within four years. To do that, the company sought permits to discharge higher amounts of ammonia and other chemicals into Lake Michigan from the Whiting refinery. Daniels says the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, was right to grant the permit in June. DANIELS: “They’re in complete compliance with Indiana law which is tougher than the federal law. EPA has checked it and rechecked it and they have approved that permit more than once. To me, the public interest says that should go forward. We’ve got thousands of jobs that will be at risk if it doesn’t go forward.” But politicians in Illinois and environmentalists in both Illinois and Indiana say something else is at risk: The health of the lake, its water and marine life. Some of the most vocal critics of BP’s plans are Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Illinois U.S. Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative Mark Kirk. Gov. Daniels says they have their priorities wrong. DANIELS: “The next time you pay three dollars, remember those names.” As the controversy’s esculated, BP has been in damage control mode. The company invited reporters out to the refinery to see how it filters water that’s heading back into the lake. The tour included viewing glasses of plant discharge that looked clear as drinking water. BP asset superintendent Joe Morrison. MORRISON: “It’s our responsibility and we take this very seriously that we do everything that we can to protect Lake Michigan, operate within our permit levels and minimize any pollution going into the lake.” That message may be getting harder to sell. PEEPLES: They don’t have enough jobs to sustain any of the surrounding municipalities to support what they are doing." Gary resident Paula Peeples was one of about 70 people at a meeting earlier this week. Though it concerned a permit for U.S. Steel to put more chemicals into the lake from its Gary facility, the talk centered on BP. PEEPLES: “AT some point, we won’t be able to use any of our resources. And, this is valuable. We’re right in the elbow of Lake Michigan. Beautiful spot. Can’t use it.” It’s a sentiment environmentalist Lee Botts can appreciate. She’s a former Chicagoan who worked on environmental issues under Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. She helped found the Alliance for the Great Lakes in Chicago. She now resides in Gary, Indiana. Botts says she’s never seen an issue generate so much flack as the BP permit. She says only a handful of people showed up to a meeting in Whiting when BP’s permit was approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management back in June. BOTTS: "I have been trying to understand what caused this explosion of interest when things have been going on with just a handful of people paying attention. Where have people been? The environmental community has been protesting to IDEM for 15 years. We never heard from anybody else." Still, Botts has some positive words for the companies that line the lake, including BP. She says most have cut back on pollution discharges. BOTTS: “The reality is that in the 1990s BP and the steel companies all greatly reduced their pollution into the air and into the water. But there’s no free lunch. You can’t produce steel, you can’t refine oil, you can’t drive a car, you can’t turn on your light switch at home, without causing some pollution.” And Botts says attitudes in Northwest Indiana regarding securing jobs at any cost ARE changing. BOTTS: “Decades ago, people would point to what was coming out of the stacks and say, see those jobs. They’re not saying that anymore.” BP still faces a mountain of protest. Among other things: Mayor Daley is hinting at a possible lawsuit against the company, while Chicago Alderman Ed Burke is suggesting a boycott of BP products by government and consumers. I'm Michael Puente, Chicago Public Radio

37 What other states border the lake?
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It is the only Great Lake that is entirely within the U.S.

38 CQ#11: Should Indiana be allowed to make exceptions for companies polluting the lake?
Yes, unconditionally Yes, under certain conditions No, unconditionally No, under certain conditions

39 City room, Produced by Michael Puente, 29 Aug 2007
What’s to lose? City room, Produced by Michael Puente, 29 Aug 2007 “BP In Trouble Again” BP In Trouble Again Produced by Michael Puente on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 Already reeling from one controversy, oil-giant BP finds itself in another one. Chicago Public Radio’s Michael Puente has more from our Northwest Indiana Bureau. ** BP’s Whiting, Indiana, refinery will benefit from relaxed rules regarding air pollution discharges. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management will allow BP to continue releasing the same amount of air pollution. This despite changes in federal law that would have required BP to cut its pollution discharges by half. Indiana officials say forcing BP to cut its air emissions would pose an extreme hardship on the oil company. Lawyers representing the city of Chicago, state of Illinois and environmental groups are asking an Indiana environmental judge to overturn the ruling. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is the same body that approved BP’s request to discharge higher amounts of pollution into Lake Michigan. BP has since backed off that plan following a month of public criticism and pressure from politicians asking the company not to do it.

40 Updating the score BP will not release nitrogen or sludge into the lake But it will continue to release the same levels of air pollution With the State of Indiana’s permission Excusing it from Federal laws requiring a reduction

41 Where is this story now? City Room, produced by Michael Puente, 25 June 2008 “Court Battle to Continue Against BP” Court Battle to Continue Against BP Produced by Michael Puente on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted BP the air permit it needs to expand its Whiting, Indiana refinery. Environmental groups aren’t done fighting. The EPA’s decision came as no surprise to Ann Alexander, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago. The council is part of a coalition of groups challenging BP’s permit. ALEXANDER: It’s really a routine development that reflects the position that U.S. E.P.A. made clear a while back. We believe that position is clearly wrong. Opponents say BP’s plan to curb air pollution doesn’t go far enough. BP’s $4 billion project is expected to be completed in three years and will allow the refinery to process larger amounts of Canadian crude oil.

42 CQ#12: How would you resolve this issue?
Allow the expansion with no limits on increased air or water pollutants Allow the expansion with limits on water pollutants only Allow the expansion with limits on air pollutants only Allow the expansion with limits on both air and water pollutants Deny the expansion

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