BP May Shelve Expansion over Opposition

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BP May Shelve Expansion over Opposition

HOUSTON -- The U.S. division of refining and marketing company BP warned that a strong environmental campaign against it could force it to cancel a $3.8 billion expansion at one of the nation's largest refineries, the Times Online reported.

Last week, Bob Malone, president of BP's business in the U.S., said the level of opposition created an "unacceptable level of business risk" for the company, the report stated. The announcement came at the same time as it nixed plans to increase ammonia discharges by 54 percent from the Whiting refinery, east of Chicago, according to the report. The plan had received media attention when the local public became concerned with the future environment at the place of the discharge.

While regulators approved the expansion plan in June, BP said it would take 18 months to study other solutions to allow BP to begin the expansion, the report stated. Meanwhile, Malone stated the company is committed to the Whiting expansion, noting "it is important for the nation, it is important for the Midwest, and it is important to BP."

In addition, Mitch Daniels, governor for Indiana, said he feared BP could drop the planned expansion altogether, resulting in a major blow to economy, the report stated. "For now, let's hope [BP's decision] quiets the hypocrisy of politicians elsewhere whose states dump vastly greater amounts of effluent in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water," he said.

Meanwhile, one opponent to the refinery expansion plan, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), called the announcement a major victory. Durbin launched a radio campaign urging the public to oppose the company's plans, the report stated. "I think it is just the beginning. We can't stop our vigilance in protecting Lake Michigan," he added.