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IDEM rubber-stamps what industry seeks

Jan 28, 2009

Link to this editorial in the Post-Tribune

Question: How much integrity can a permit process have when the outcome and deadline are certain?

Answer: Very little.

In an e-mail obtained by Post-Tribune reporter Gitte Laasby, the head of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management makes clear that BP would have its air permit by June 1, 2008.

In the e-mail from Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly to Gov. Mitch Daniels' office, Easterly says that regardless of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actions, the state would issue the permit by June 1.

That's because BP had pollution credits that would end on that date, making an expansion more costly as the refinery would have to add more stringent air pollution equipment.

The e-mail says the project would be dead unless IDEM moved foward. But that means IDEM had to ignore initial requests of the EPA -- which was investigating BP for exceeding its pollutions limits and for beginning work on the expansion before getting a permit -- to hold off on the permit until the EPA could determine problems.

The goal of getting BP its permit -- regardless of the EPA, regardless of emissions from BP's flares, regardless of public comment -- shows the political appointees of the agency are nothing more than rubber stamps for industry.

And if it's never been clear, it should be now: The rubber-stamping of such permits are at the behest of the governor's office.

We have environmental laws because the United States once had poisoned air and poisoned water. We, as a people, decided we wanted to fix that.

But here in Indiana, our governor is deciding it's fine if we regress. Apparently jobs and economic development are more important than health and people in the eyes of the Daniels administration.


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