“Here’s one of the biggest steps forward for the Midwest, really the whole nation,” Mr. Daniels, a Republican, told reporters last week. “I don’t think it should be held up without a good scientific reason, and none has been provided.”
According to documents on BP’s Web site, the new permit allows the refinery to discharge 1,584 pounds of ammonia, an increase of 54 percent over the current level, into the lake each day. Also allowed is discharge of up to 4,925 pounds of suspended solids into the lake each day, an increase of 35 percent. .
Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, said that the Indiana permit’s requirements were stricter than federal requirements, and that BP expected to operate well within those limits.
“We followed the regulatory process to the letter and did everything by the book,” Mr. Dean said.
The protests against the permit have been loudest from Chicago, Indiana’s urban neighbor to the northwest, where Mayor Richard M. Daley has been striving to create a green image for the city and its 30 miles of lakeshore. A committee of the Chicago City Council is scheduled to discuss the matter on Thursday.
The Illinois governor, Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat, has threatened legal action to stop the additional discharge of pollutants.
The permit is part of BP’s plan to expand and modernize the Whiting refinery, which was built in 1889 by the Standard Oil Company and which now processes 405,000 barrels of crude oil each day. About 1,700 people work at the facility, and BP has an annual payroll of about $100 million in Indiana. The expansion is set for completion in 2011.
BP documents said the company would also spend $150 million to improve its wastewater treatment plant in Whiting, from which it discharges about 20 million gallons of treated wastewater a day, including the ammonia and suspended solids addressed by the permit, into Lake Michigan.