Ashley Herzog

All of the Boilermakers I spoke with preferred working at the BP-Husky refinery over other refineries, in part because their safety standards are so high.

“With BP, safety is always at the forefront,” said Jaramie Hilliard. “It’s almost in-your-face. If something gets spilled, they’re all over that. Occupy Toledo isn’t even knowledgeable about what goes on at the refinery. They rely on a lack of knowledge.”

Is BP perfect? No, of course not. The oil spill in the Gulf was a disaster of epic proportions. (To date, they’ve also spent more than $14 billion cleaning it up.) But the Oregon refinery’s safety record is impeccable: employees are approaching 10 million hours worked without a lost-time injury. Safety at the refinery broke records in 2011 and reached its best ever in 2012.

What about environmental concerns? Since 2000, overall criteria air emissions from the refinery have decreased by over 45 percent. Since 2002, overall permitted water emissions have decreased by 20 percent.

I contacted Occupy Toledo—a group that has loudly opposed BP—to get their perspective on the refinery expansion. What are their main objections?

Besides claiming that the expansion would provide a “minimal” number of jobs and create pollution, an Occupy Toledo activist told me, “BP is a corporation and as a corporation it exists to maximize profits for its shareholders in order to do this all questions of ethics and morals are pushed to the side…we do not believe that they have ethics or morals.”

Groups like Occupy Toledo may sincerely believe such things, but believing doesn’t make it so. This is a conflict of knee-jerk, anti-corporate emotionalism versus the interests of blue-collar workers.

When environmentalists and left-wing activists win, workers lose.

Ashley Herzog

Ashley Herzog can be reached at