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.
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 bring citizen environmental enforcement lawsuits 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.
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.
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 citizen 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.
If you have information or questions about industrial pollution in Lake, Porter, or LaPorte counties, you can contact Mike Zoeller at [email protected] or Ellis Walton at [email protected].