Only You Can Prevent, ah, Lake Michigan Pollution – Tell BP to stop dumping their discharges in Lake Michigan or any lake

August 7, 2007

by Debra Shore

Too Bad Nobody Told the Lake

Too bad nobody told the lake about jurisdictional boundaries and statutory limitations, right?. Too bad nobody told the lake about county lines and state lines. Too bad nobody told the lake that even now, 35 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, it is regarded by some as a waste basket, a dumping ground, a repository for problems we create.

I am referring, of course, to the proposal by BP to discharge into Lake Michigan 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more suspended solids from its refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The location where this discharge would occur is merely a few miles from the southern water intake crib serving Chicago. This increase in discharge of pollutants results from a waiver granted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. IDEM and BP contend that because the processing of Canadian crude would reduce dependence on overseas sources of oil and would create 80 new jobs at the refinery, the social and economic benefits outweigh the harm to the lake.

It has been heartening to see the reaction of so many people who recognize that our great lakes are precious resources worthy of our protection and care. What’s problematic, however, is that we apparently do not have workable mechanisms for all affected constituencies to be heard. People in Illinois and Michigan and Wisconsin have just as much interest in the health and welfare of Lake Michigan as those in Indiana, yet the IDEM decision was made without consulting us.

The Great Lakes are our commons. Millions of us – Canadians and Americans alike – share in their bounty. Happily we are coming to recognize that not only do we depend on the lakes, but that they depend on us. We are the stewards of this precious resource and, vast as they are, they are not inexhaustible. They are not eternally resilient.

I’ve been trying to figure out if the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District might be able to play a useful role in finding a solution to the BP problem – to see if there is a way to keep the increased discharge out of Lake Michigan. Please send me your ideas at And stay tuned!

Let’s Go to the Movies
The Illinois Science Council and An Inconvenient Truth” in Grant Park on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 as part of the ongoing conversation about what scientists can teach us about our planet.

This public showing is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Chicago Climate Exchange with media sponsorship by NBC5, WTMX 101.9FM, and WLIV 100.3FM.

Bring a blanket and bring friends to share the experience! The film will begin at sundown, approximately 8:15 p.m., in Grant Park’s Butler Field (Monroe Street & Lake Shore Drive) and runs 95 minutes. Electricity for the film will be through biodiesel fuel and solar power courtesy of Natural Source Energy Systems .

Use the complimentary bike valet service provided by Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF) through its Chase Bank Valet program. Your ride is placed in a secure, enclosed area, so you can leave it money-free and worry- free. NO rain date; cancellation will be due to severe weather only. No pets allowed in the park. The New York Times review of the film can be found by clicking here.

email: Send Debra an email at
phone: 847-677-2471

Paid for and authorized by the Friends of Debra Shore. A copy of our report is available from the Cook County Clerk’s Office: 69 W Washington Street, Chicago IL 60606

Friends of Debra Shore | P O Box 4674 | Skokie | IL | 60077


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