Washington state enacts new regulation for refineries

The state of Washington has adopted a new rule that will require refineries in the state to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2025.

The rule, entitled WAC Petroleum Refinery Greenhouse Gas Emission Requirements, was adopted on May 28 and establishes reasonably available control technology (RACT) to limit GHG emissions from the state’s refineries, the state’s Department of Ecology (DEC) said.

While compliance with the regulation is mandatory by 2025, the newly enacted law allows Washington’s five refineries to choose one of two options available under the rule to meet the GHG emission reduction requirements, according to DEC.

Under the first option, known as the energy efficiency standard (EES), a refinery may demonstrate reasonably available energy efficiency performance by scoring in the top 50th percentile of similar-sized US refineries.

To determine energy efficiency performance scores for a refinery, the Northwest Clean Air Agency and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which have been charged with implementing and enforcing the new rule, will use the Solomon EII scoring system as the benchmark demonstration of an investment in energy efficiency measures at a specific plant, according to a DEC circular.

But a refinery that does not meet the EES will have a second option available to comply with the new rule.

Under this alternative option, known as the emission reduction requirement (ERR), the refinery must implement GHG emission reduction projects that, cumulatively, must achieve reductions adding up to 10% of the refinery’s baseline-year GHG emissions.

Should a refinery fail to complete these emission reduction projects to achieve target emission levels within 10 years, that refinery must implement emission reduction and efficiency projects that allows it to comply with the law using the EES, according to the circular.

Until a refinery reaches GHG emissions reduction compliance through either the EES or ERR, it must submit a report to the rule’s regulating agencies on Oct. 1 of each year, with the first annual report from refineries due this October, DEC said.

Finally, the new law will require all refineries to keep records supporting its annual reports and compliance for 5 years following the submission of its last report to the regulating agencies.

While the rule’s language will be modified as needed to clarify and eliminate confusion after the first annual reports are reviewed, DEC said the state’s refineries will benefit from the RACT rule by saving money, using less water, and generating less waste.

“This provides a path for oil refineries to save money and shrink their carbon footprint,” said Maia Bellon, DEC director.

BP PLC, Phillips 66, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Tesoro Corp., and US Oil & Refining Co. all operate Washington refineries.

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