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Alar Scare Group Sues To Stop Oil Refinery

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The BP Refinery waste water treatment plant reside along a Lake Michigan beach front in Whiting, Ind.

Group trying to stop BP refinery expansion

LAWSUIT | Claims company needs different permit

July 10, 2008


The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a federal court appeal Wednesday, alleging that BP Whiting’s air permit will allow an expanded refinery to emit substantially more pollution than the Clean Air Act allows.

The environmental group hopes the lawsuit will send BP and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management back to the drawing board to draft a new, more stringent permit.

The NRDC also is asking for the $3.8 billion construction project to stop while the company applies for a new permit, and for civil penalties to be assessed against BP of up to $32,500 a day for each day it has undergone construction without the proper permit.

The NRDC argues that BP and IDEM did not properly account for increases in pollution that would result from the refinery modernization, mainly from flares that burn off excess gas.

The refinery emits several pollutants that irritate the respiratory system and cause health hazards for people living downwind, the organization said.

The suit also contends that BP obtained a "minor source" permit from the state when it should have obtained a "major source" permit under the federal Clean Air Act…

Just who are the Natural Resources Defense Council?

From Discover The Networks:


Founded in 1970 on a $400,000 seed grant from the Ford Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is today one of the most influential environmentalist lobbying groups in the United States. It claims a membership of one million people, including some 400,000 Internet activists. The organization’s President is Frances Beinecke, a co-founder of the New York League of Conservation Voters, a Board member of the World Resources Institute, and a former Board Chair of the Wilderness Society…

In a joint effort in 1989 with Fenton Communications, a Washington-based public relations firm headed by David Fenton, NRDC claimed that growers who treated apples with the pesticide Alar were creating a serious health threat to consumers. For five months, NRDC flooded media outlets with accusations that Alar was a dangerous carcinogen. Eventually the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that the fear campaign was unfounded, explaining that a person would have to eat 50,000 pounds of Alar-treated apples per day over the course of a lifetime in order to ingest enough of the substance to develop cancer.

Apple growers lost some $250 million as a result of the campaign, with many smaller growers being forced out of business. NRDC fared much better. According to an internal memo written by David Fenton and later published in the Wall Street Journal: "We designed [the anti-Alar campaign] so that revenue would flow back to the Natural Resources Defense Council from the public, and we sold a book about pesticides through a 900 number and the Donahue Show. And to date there has been $700,000 in net revenue from it." …

As a tax-free corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, NRDC is subject to limits on the amount of money it can disburse for the purposes of lobbying Congress. But it has found a way around such restrictions by establishing a separate lobbying arm, the NRDC Action Fund. Operating under a different section of the tax code, section 501(c)(4), the Action Fund is exempt from similar restrictions. Under the banner of "environmental action", NRDC lodges lawsuits to impede the construction of everything from highways and hydroelectric dams to nuclear power plants. The NRDC Action Fund complements this work, launching advertising campaigns to arouse grassroots support.

Philanthropic support for NRDC has risen dramatically in recent years, from just over $36 million in 1999 to more than $55 million in 2004. As of 2004, the organization had assets of $93,525,812. NRDC receives financial backing from Pew Charitable Trusts, the Tides Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Beldon Fund, the Blue Moon Fund, the Bullitt Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Energy Foundation, the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, the Heinz Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the New York Times Company Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Scherman Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and many others.

Moreover, it is estimated that NRDC received $2.6 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the first three years of the Bush administration. NRDC, which accused President Bush of attempting the "rollback of almost every major environmental law on the books," subsequently used the EPA money to finance anti-Bush radio spots in battleground states prior to the 2004 presidential election.

And, as the DTN article suggests, they really rake in the dough.

According to their 2006 Form 990 (a pdf) at Guidestar, this 501c3 "charity" pulled in $67 million dollars in 2007 and had an ongoing balance of $125 million.

That buys a lot of obstructionist lawsuits — and illegal lobbying.

According to the "report page" at Guidestar, one of their stellar accomplishments was to get the US Department of Interior to (falsely) list the polar as a threatened species:


Accomplishments for Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2007

Owing to a NRDC led lawsuit and the mobilization of NRDC’s 1 million Members and supporters who generated more than 500,000 letters of concern in just 90 days, NRDC played a key role in persuading the U.S. Department of Interior to plan to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act

What a great accomplishment!

Still, how is it that our watchdog media never bother to give us such details?

It’s almost as if they don’t want us to know who are really behind such stories.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, July 10th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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