"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chicago Tribune and BP Whiting Refinery Heavy Petroleum Increase

In these days of global warming theatrics and perhaps downplaying of environment issues from the other side it becomes more and more apparent each day that someone needs to stand up and speak honestly about these issues.

On the other hand what we do on this planet has to have some kind of impact one would think, but to what degree is the question. It is for this reason that environmental standards are set and those that do not heed those standards and laws are rightfully punished; when caught anyway.

The main stream media says that it reports in an unbiased and even handed way, yet day in and day out one sees via the voice of the author and the words used often connote a very different impression.

We’ve grown so used to it that we barely notice anymore unless we happen to know much of the detail already, which of course is possible with all the sources of information available at our fingertips with the help of the internet.

I often find myself thinking the OpEd pages as perhaps a place to do that, especially since it speaks with such authority and certainly would not mislead; that is however the least likely place for one to find the truth of a matter. This is sad as now one has to wonder where to turn.

What’s the real story here? Recently the Chicago Tribune published an editorial regarding British Petroleum’s (BP) “massive” oil refinery in Whiting, IN. The opinion piece concern is an increase in pollution in Lake Michigan due to BP’s plans to begin refining “Canadian crude oil to reduce its reliance on sources in the Middle East,” which according to the paper is a “dirtier process than conventional methods. It also requires more energy that could significantly increase greenhouse gases linked to global warming. According to the paper the Canadian crude is heavier, thereby making the refining a dirtier process.

Noted in the piece is the fact that BP will be allowed to pump more “toxic waste” into the lake than is allowed by State standards but is that is below Federal standards. My question at this point is whether it is in fact, “toxic waste” if it has been treated?

According to BP it has worked with Fed, state and local government to develop “environmentally sound plans. In contrast to the opinion piece which says that BP “will now be allowed to dump an average of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge into Lake Michigan every day. The additional sludge is the maximum allowed under federal guidelines.

BP says that “$150 million to enhance the refinery's wastewater treatment capability,” as well as the fact that “what is released from our refinery is treated water that is more than 99.9% water - not sludge. All sludge is treated separately, according to state and federal requirements, and never discharged into Lake Michigan.”

The Chicago Tribune piece appears to be implying that the BP project is making claims of increased employment, which yes BP has made, yet it is not the only benefit though the paper makes it sound this way. BP says that the intent to increase its refining of Canadian heave crude is in line with the effort to export less crude from the Middle Eastern region; something that many of us clamor for. In its effort and that of others it would be nice not to thwart any of these attempts without all the facts, otherwise we’re cutting off our noses to spite our faces; something we tend to do very well.

Bottom line is that I don’t see this as a reason to bring back some type of “fairness doctrine,” but I do think it would behoove the public and the papers themselves to consider voluntarily offering both sides of an issue side by side.

The opinion page can be a place of emotional and frantic calls against this or that evil; yet when put side by side with the statements of a BP, you have statements with no emotion. Again, in this day of heightened awareness of the human races impact on the planet it would be nice to be able to feel like we all our weighing the facts and not just jumping on one band wagon or another.

BP makes the claim that it is “committed to minimizing the environmental impact of their action;” having read the opinion piece and the statements of the company, I would suggest comparing the two for yourself; keeping emotion out of it I believe you can come up with the answer yourself.

Science may not yet be able to discern what exactly our part in the impact on our environment we play, but opinion pieces sure do appear to know.

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