25-years-ago BP abandoned its professional training facilities in Robertsdale, donating the facilities to Calumet College, and moved to a 200-acre LEED certified campus in Naperville. They did so because they could no longer attract professionals to this location due to Quality of Life issues. Quality of Life issues they had a major hand in creating.
Today BP’s professional staff enjoy the healthy work environment of a green campus with ample buffering between office buildings and roadways, while residents adjacent to the BP’s refinery are not so fortunate. Today BP is constructing a whole new facility at their East Chicago / Whiting Refinery to refine the “No Good, Very Bad, Dirty” heavy sour crude from the Alberta Tars Sands and to do so they are constructing 6 cokers directly across the street from the Marktown Historic District where more than 120 children under the age of 18 live, play and sleep.
BP likes to refer to the project as a modernization or retooling project. This is an important distinction to them because to call it what is, a “new facility” or “new construction,” would trigger all sorts of regulatory reviews and permitting, including a new-source review requiring an environmental and health risk assessment. I am not certain if there has ever been a risk assessment done on the impacts the BP refinery has the neighboring communities. I don’t know if that is because they have been grandfathered in or what. I just know that new construction ought to trigger a new source review and that is not happening.
For labor purposes BP calls the project a “maintenance project.” Thus they bypass all sorts of labor rules in terms of pay, scheduling, and work conditions as would be the case for new construction. Let’s make this simple, if I tore down my house to construct a brand new home, I could not go to City Hall seeking a maintenance permit for the new construction. I would be required to seek the proper permits and follow requirements for new construction. This is just one way in which BP has been cutting corners here to save themselves costs. I can’t say what other cost cutting measures BP is making, but I do know they did not do this without the aid of regional leadership. I wonder what our regional leadership is thinking now as we learn more about the costs of BP practices to the gulf region.
This is a good environmental justice example of how benefits-without-risks are created and separated from risks-without-benefits in a free-market economy. Free-market corporations and present day land use policies have a very intentional consequent of accumulating wealth and benefits in one location while clustering risks and blight in another. All too often the geography of separation is as clear as the “Northshore” and “Southshore” designations.
It makes me wonder if anyone working in office complexes similar to the BP complex in Naperville feel any sense of culpability for the lives negatively impacted on the other side of their company’s production line. What about Kraft Foods? what about Grainger? what about Cargill? and U.S. Steel? and ArcelorMittal? Boeing? GATX? or Ryerson?
Compounding problems, BP extracted an additional $165 million in tax abatements from the mostly poor people of Marktown and East Chicago. They did this behind closed doors, and without a single public hearing, all while lecturing the region on “Good Government.” Despite efforts, residents, who pay the highest property taxes in the state at 7.4%, still do not know that they gave up $165 million to BP. BP accomplished this feat by spreading the wealth to voting districts outside the plume of negative externalities while taking advantage of their partnerships with corrupt local political enterprises under the plume. BP is well known for this form of philanthropic activity and I could go on about “to whom” and “how much” was given, but that will have to be for another post. Let these two examples suffice for now.
Three years ago a $25-million donation from BP capped Phase 1 of a three-part expansion and renovation campaign. Since 2002, BP had agreed to more than $125 million in state and regional legal settlements over pollution problems.
Art museums are often the beneficiaries of largess from corporations wishing to polish their sometimes less-than-gleaming image. (Cigarette, anyone?) Oops.
via [ LA Times ] BP Grand Entrance at LACMA looking not-quite-so-grand
In 2009 BP gave to Napperville for $1 an extremely expensive Hydrogen fueling station with multipliers of positive effects.
I will be participating in Paul Sargent’s “Precious Cargo” show in Buffalo this month.
March 18 – May 15, 2010
University at Buffalo Art Gallery
Opening Reception: March 18, 5 – 7pm
Screening Event: May 14, 2010
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Precious Cargo is an exhibition of contemporary art and design projects addressing the flow of goods and services in an interdependent post-global world. Organized by multidisciplinary artist Paul Lloyd Sargent, works in this exhibition critique and complicate such binary oppositions as: inter/national vs. regional/local transport, [interdependent] global trade vs. [self-sufficient] local trade, supply chain vs. disposal chain, resource exhaustion vs. sustainable culture, consumption vs. reuse, resource vs. commodity, and more. This is the second exhibition in an annual Artist in Residence program in which artists are invited to transform the gallery space over the duration of the exhibition run, providing audiences an opportunity to engage the artist-at-work and witness the transformation of the gallery over time. Sargent will be working in the gallery on March 20, 30 & 31 and April 1, 6, 7 & 8 constructing “Not To Scale,” a working relief map of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway made entirely from found objects illustrating the lock system, canals, and waterways necessary for travel from the Atlantic Ocean to ports along each of the Great Lakes.
Contributing works in the UB Art Gallery will be:
The Center for Land Use Interpretation(CLUI)
The Center for Urban Pedagogy(CUP)
Compass Group working in the MRCC
View Larger Map
Today Manuel Mendoza, my wife’s past student, visited us with wonderful news. He just received a phone call from Harvard and told he was accepted. In his excitement he felt he had to tell his sixth-grade teacher first - Kristin. Kristin was in tears with pride. What a day…
Congratulations Manuel! Congratulation Kristin!
From the [ NWI Times ] E.C. Student Headed to Harvard By Steve Zabroski
EAST CHICAGO | An East Chicago Central High School senior will be heading to Harvard University in the fall.
Manuel Mendoza, 17, learned this week he had been accepted by the prestigious Ivy League school.
His father, Mike Mendoza, said the Indiana Harbor area resident plans to major in chemistry.
“This young man is destined for great things,” Central High Principal Larry Allen said. “He’s a terrific role model, and we’re all very proud of him.”
Manuel Mendoza comes from a class of very smart students in the city, said Kristin Frank, a teacher for the group through the gifted and talented program at Franklin Elementary School.
“He’s had a plan since sixth grade to go to Harvard,” Frank said. “He’s absolutely brilliant — they’re people I will never forget.”
Manuel Mendoza is putting in long hours after class with the school’s award-winning Science Olympiad team, his father said, in preparation for next month’s competition.
As a sophomore in 2008, Mendoza was part of the first-ever Central High science team to make it to the state finals.
“It’s great that Manuel has chosen Harvard for his continuing education,” Allen said. “There are many schools in Indiana that have never had a student attend Harvard.”
@ [ Thomasfrank.org ]
2009 Mexican Independence Parade: Slideshow (260 images, 13 min.)
You may have noticed I’ve been testing out different tools for displaying large amounts of images. This is one approach I think I may look to develop further. Unfortunately, there is limited functionality, as I could not post it to this blog.
This is the first edition of a new project called the “East Chicago Portrait Series.” I hope this piece shows the strength and energy of the Latino Culture here in the E.C. You can see from the photos how much the Latino Culture is thoroughly apart of the East Chicago identity, and the complexity of that identity. East Chicago breaks from many stereotypes. There is a back-story to many of the images. I know several of the people in the slideshow. Many are my neighbors.
I think this format offers an important framework that often goes missing in planning documents. It begins to give character to both the people and their public spaces, giving some insight into the development, the population, and the uses of this particular public space. Although many in the Parade are East Chicagoan’s, some of the traditional and more iconic costuming of Hispanic culture are hired entertainers.