EPA to propose stronger air pollution standards for refineries

On behalf of Rock Palermo of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC posted in Toxic Torts on February 28, 2014.

The Environmental Protection Agency may revise standards concerning the release of air pollutants from oil refineries. This has all been the part of a process pertaining to a consent agreement with environmental groups (including one group from Louisiana) that was approved by a federal judge.

This agreement requires that the EPA propose new rules by May 15. A final action pertaining to the rules will be required by April 17, 2015. The rules potentially could reduce the amount of emissions that refineries are allowed to release into the atmosphere.

The use of attorneys in implementing changes in the manner that regulations are enforced does need to be noted. This environmental law matter demonstrates the effectiveness of litigating such matters as the agreement came about due to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups in 2012. The lawsuit accused the EPA of for more than 16 years not reviewing standards for emissions and thus violating the Clean Air Act. The next step is for the EPA to consider what would be best to limit emissions from oil refineries.

"It's time for communities that have waited for years for clear air to get meaningful federal protection from refineries," stated one environmental group attorney. However, there is always more work to do. For example, there remain concerns concerning reporting requirements regarding these emissions.

Environmental groups have in the past disagreed with oil refineries concerning whether certain unexpected emission discharges from refineries could be considered releases below reportable amounts. The groups feel that refineries often are guilty of underreporting.  Therefore such orgnaizations want to make certain any new rules put in place more stringent reporting requirements.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "EPA agrees to review, strengthen rules governing air pollution from refineries after suit by Louisiana Bucket Brigade, other environmental groups," Mark Schleifstein, Feb. 7, 2014

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