EPA settlement could impact refineries, petrochemical plants

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by community groups in Texas and Louisiana forcing it to review, and if necessary, revise formulas that refineries and chemical plants use to report toxic emission levels.

The proposed settlement, published in the Feb. 25 Federal Register, resolves a complaint filed on May 1, 2013, alleging that EPA failed to perform nondiscretionary duties mandated by the Clean Air Act to review, and where required, revise emission factors used by refiners and chemical manufacturers to calculate reportable toxic releases from their plants, EPA said.

Specifically, the lawsuit called for EPA to review the methodologies used to measure emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides (NOX) from liquid storage tanks, industrial flares, and wastewater systems.

Although the federal Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and update these emission factors at least once every 3 years, the consortium of plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit—led by Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of its clients Air Alliance Houston, Community In-Power and Development Association, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy—allege that EPA has not reviewed some of these factors in over 20 years.

According to a Feb. 26 joint release from the plaintiffs, US refineries in 2010 reported releasing 37,895 tonnes of VOCs from flares, tanks, and wastewater treatment plants. Recent EPA studies, however, have measured actual emissions of volatile and toxic compounds from these refineries at levels 10 to 100 times higher than estimates based on the current methodology for calculating emission factors, the consortium said.

EPA’s failure to revise these factors has resulted in major shortfalls in reported emissions from refineries and petrochemical plants and has allowed “hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants to go unreported each year,” potentially exposing nearby communities to higher levels of pollution than the law allows, according to the plaintiffs.

“This consent decree is the first step for protecting communities from exposure to toxic emissions by making sure that what refineries emit is accurate,” said Anna Hrybyk, program manager for plaintiff Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

A future step would be to work with EPA to ensure compliance with these new factors by installing state of the art fenceline monitoring at all refineries, Hrybyk added.

Under the proposed consent decree, EPA has until Aug. 19 to review the emission factors methodology and issue either proposed revisions or a determination that revisions are unnecessary, with any final revisions to the methodology or a final determination that none are required to be issued no later than Dec. 19.

Any public comments on the proposed settlement decree are due to EPA by Mar. 27.

Related Articles

US Forest Service withdraws proposed groundwater directive

06/22/2015 The US Forest Service withdrew a proposed directive on groundwater resource management on June 19, and announced it would hold public discussions o...

Petronas lets technology contract for RAPID project

06/22/2015 Malaysia’s state-run Petronas has let a contract to Axens to provide processing technology for its proposed refinery and petrochemical integrated d...

Salerno considers same-season relief wells basic Arctic offshore tool

06/22/2015 US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno disagreed with oil and gas industry comments that a requirement in propose...

Williams rejects unsolicited bid from Energy Transfer Equity

06/22/2015 Williams Cos. Inc., Tulsa, has rejected an unsolicited all-equity acquisition proposal valued at $53.1 billion from Dallas-based Energy Transfer Eq...

WPX Energy adds to acreage in Gallup oil play

06/22/2015 WPX Energy Inc., Tulsa, has added to its San Juan Gallup acreage in New Mexico with the purchase of another 14,300 net acres from an undisclosed se...

Lundin appoints president, chief executive officer

06/22/2015 Lundin Petroleum AB reported that its board has appointed Alex Schneiter as president and chief executive officer following Ashley Heppenstall’s de...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil price fall on Greece’s debt concerns

06/22/2015 US crude oil futures for July delivery dropped back below $60/bbl on the New York market in June 19 trading, and analysts said concerns over Greece...

Nationalism may restrict climate efforts, Statoil economist warns

06/22/2015 Growing national confrontations could undermine efforts to meet goals to reduce global climate change impacts, Statoil’s chief economist warned.

Watching Government: Considering energy R&D

06/22/2015 Moving from research to development (R&D) became a recurring question as the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered 43 sep...
White Papers

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected