Science

Breakin’ the law

I doubt that I will ever understand why large corporations are allowed to break the law, ostensibly in the interest of the public good but actually in the pursuit of greater profits, whereas the rest of us are expected to adhere to the strictest letter of the law.  It is especially troublesome when the “exception” is granted in spite of great harm being done that the law was created to prevent in the first place!  Case in point:

BP gets break on dumping in lake

Indiana regulators exempted BP from state environmental laws to clear the way for a $3.8 billion expansion that will allow the company to refine heavier Canadian crude oil…The company 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.  (Ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish, while sludge is full of concentrated heavy metals.)  The additional sludge is the maximum allowed under federal guidelines…

The request to dump more chemicals into the lake ran counter to a provision of the Clean Water Act that prohibits any downgrade in water quality near a pollution source even if discharge limits are met. To get around that rule, state regulators are allowing BP to install equipment that mixes its toxic waste with clean lake water about 200 feet offshore.

Actively diluting pollution this way by creating what is known as a mixing zone is banned in Lake Michigan under Indiana law. Regulators granted BP the first-ever exemption.

Nice.  How is it that “regulators” (not lawmakers, not voters, not the judicial system) are able to exempt a company from a law that everyone else – even other big companies – are expected to follow?  From where do they derive that authority?  The answer is:  they don’t.  And I hope someone has the wherewithal and the finances to bring this to court and have it thrown out like yesterday’s trash.

If I lived in Indiana, I’d be outraged.  As it is, I’m just incensed.

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