Refineries challenge EPA plan to cut emissions

A rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to curb emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical manufacturers is causing tensions to flare between the agency and industry groups. The agency is reviewing a flood of public comments on the issue and is expected to finalize the rule by April 17, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Glenn Hess, a senior correspondent at C&EN, notes that the plan would increase requirements for burning off excess hydrocarbon gases, require refineries to monitor air pollution at the edges of their properties, and limit emissions during facility start-up, shut-down and malfunctioning. The EPA contends the revisions would improve air quality, limit greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health in communities adjacent to the industries’ properties.

Refineries and petrochemical companies don’t agree with the agency’s assessment. They argue that the potential benefits would be minimal to the environment and public health, and that their customers would end up paying higher prices to help cover the costs of upgrades. Environmentalists are on board with tightening emissions, but some activists say the proposal doesn’t go far enough to protect people’s health in neighboring communities.

“EPA, Refiners Clash over Air Pollution”

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