In an effort to protect neighborhoods near petroleum refineries, the EPA is proposing to update the toxic air pollution standards for emissions under the Clean Air Act for refineries. The proposed updated standards would apply to the petroleum refining industry and refinery sources subject to the Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards (“MACT”) set forth in 40 C.F.R. part 63, subpart CC. The potential new standards being considered are consistent with the agency’s actions in a series of recent enforcement cases, in which it compelled the use of innovative pollution control practices such as flare gas recovery systems and flare efficiency improvements. The EPA is taking the position that these innovative practices demonstrate that the proposed standards are practical and achievable today with new technology.
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to evaluate MACT emissions standards currently in place every eight years to determine whether there are any remaining risks to public health or the environment, and whether there have been any new developments in practices or technologies. The standards, if implemented, would reduce emissions by refineries of toxic gases, including benzene, toluene, and xylene, by 5,600 tons per year. Volatile organic compound emissions would be reduced by approximately 52,000 tons per year. The EPA maintains that these changes are cost-effective and would have no impact on the cost of petroleum products being produced by the nation’s refineries.
The EPA anticipates publication of the proposed standards in the Federal Register in June 2014. Comments will be taken on the proposal for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Public hearings are expected to be held in April 2015 in the Houston, TX, and Los Angeles, CA areas.
For more information about the proposal, consult the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov. For questions, call Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8502.