Indiana Dunes National Park

Clean Air

Protecting Northwest Indiana

ELPC’s Northwest Indiana Protector Project fights air and water pollution to safeguard residents’ health, Lake Michigan’s ecology, and the environment

Northwest Indiana is a unique and extraordinary place combining diverse communities, Lake Michigan shoreline, a national park and state park, and globally rare dune and swale ecology. In this region, this beauty is all interspersed alongside massive and highly polluting industrial facilities, including three steel mills, an oil refinery, and chemical plants.

ELPC’s Northwest Indiana Air, Parks, and Water Protector Project fights air and water pollution to safeguard residents’ health, Lake Michigan’s ecology, and the environment, including the Indiana Dunes National Park which has become the environmental anchor of this diverse and changing region. In partnership with long-time environmental advocates, we have already taken several significant steps towards these goals in Northwest Indiana.

What is ELPC Doing?

Holding Industries Accountable to their Communities

ELPC is tracking air emissions and water effluent reports submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) from all the major industries along the Indiana lakeshore. We will take enforcement action under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act as necessary and appropriate. We are also tracking these industries’ compliance with federal settlement agreements to ensure that the environmental benefits promised through these compromises are realized. In doing so, ELPC seeks to clean up, not close, the industrial facilities – which have long been drivers of the regional economy and provide good-paying jobs. We will work to ensure they play by the rules and implement the latest modern emissions control technologies to reduce pollution and improve the landscape where people live, work, and play in Northwest Indiana. And we will review their Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permits when they come up for renewal, advocate in administrative processes and, if necessary, litigate to tighten the permits to require that the industrial facilities use the best available technologies to reduce pollution.

Challenging New Industrial Polluters in Overburdened Communities

In December 2022, on behalf of Gary Advocates for Responsible Development (GARD), ELPC filed a petition to review a Clean Air Act permit issued by IDEM to Fulcrum Centerpoint to build a massive trash-to-fuel plant in Gary, Indiana. The Fulcrum refinery gasification process has yet to be proven effective, safe, or economically viable. Garbage to fuel may sound like a great idea but it is an unproven gamble with taxpayer money and Gary residents’ health. IDEM issued the permit despite significant and detailed public comment from the local community, relying instead on Fulcrum’s unsupported bases for the facility’s potential emissions.

In May 2023, also on behalf of GARD, we filed a civil rights complaint with U.S. EPA challenging IDEM’s issuance of a permit to Maya Energy to build and operate a trash processing facility in Gary, Indiana.

Commenting on Steel Industry Permits and Regulations

We review permits issued by IDEM and routinely offer comments on behalf of ELPC to highlight the environmental impacts of existing facilities. These have included comments on:

  • An air permit for the installation of a massive automobile shredding operation on the South Side of East Chicago. The permit has not been issued.
  • An air permit for five lime kilns in Gary that have a long history of permit violations. IDEM only recently issued a revised draft permit for EPA’s review.
  • A water pollution permit for this same lime kiln that misrepresented the size and scope of its operations and stormwater runoff
  • Water pollution permits for three wastewater treatment plants associated with the steel mills in Indiana Harbor owned by Cleveland-Cliffs

ELPC has also submitted comments to IDEM on its proposal to EPA to take no further action to reduce ozone levels below health-based national ambient air quality standards. And we have submitted comments on U.S. EPA’s proposed regulations to reduce hazardous air pollutants from the Integrated Iron & Steel Industry and from coking facilities. In doing so, ELPC leverages its resources by collaborating with other environmental advocacy groups and local activists to effectively address these massive sources of air and water pollution.

Pursuing Environmental Justice

Throughout all of our work in Northwest Indiana, we are working with some new and other long-time community partners to support environmental justice initiatives throughout the Region. We will use and build on ELPC’s community science expertise with air quality monitoring tools to identify pollution problems and violations. And we are speaking with community activists and local residents about the environmental problems facing their communities.

Serving as a Resource for Local Residents

If you have information or questions about industrial pollution in Lake, Porter, or LaPorte counties, you can contact Rob Michaels at [email protected],  Ellis Walton at [email protected], or Kerri Gefeke at [email protected].

Related Projects

View All
Clean Air

Monitoring Air Quality

Clean Water

Protecting the Great Lakes

Clean Air

Achieving Healthy Clean Air for All

Clean Air

Protecting Northwest Indiana