1. President Obama Gets Environmental Protection Done.
President Obama's Administration is proposing important changes affecting environmental and public health protection around the nation's petroleum refineries.
And this EPA news release from today discusses an EPA report to Congress showing that the Administration's actions are working at reducing emissions and threats to public health around the nation's petroleum refineries and other industrial facilities.
This diary is to let Kossack-enviro-enforcers know about the notices out on public comment and to note some of the issues and players in the litigation and how important this particular kind of work is to progressive Democrats in carrying on the traditions of Senator Edmund Muskie and realizing the public trust, public health and environmental protection benefits of the Clean Air Act.
2. EPA Settles with Citizen/Enviromental Groups on Petroleum Refinery Hazardous Air Pollutant Control Litigation
In September, 2012, Plaintiffs Air Alliance Houston, California Communities Against Toxics, Coalition For A Safe Environment, Community In-Power and Development Association, Del Amo Action Committee, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services filed litigation against the U.S. EPA.
The litigation concerned, in part, EPA's failure to conduct a non-discretionary duty to review and/or revise two different Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations binding on petroleum refineries and EPA's responsibility to address residual public health risks that remain after such MACT standards are actually applied.
The litigation was filed by Earthjustice Attorneys James Pew and Emma Cheuse & Environmental Integrity Project Attorneys Sparsh Khandeshi and Jennifer Peterson. Attorney James Pew, as a senior EarthJustice Attorney, has been tracking and litigating on many of EPA's regulations covering technology-based emission standards for more than 15 years.
In August of 2013, EPA settled the litigation with the citizens groups. The settlement put EPA on a schedule and time table to review EPA's Subpart CC and UUU petroleum refinery MACT standards for the control of hazardous air pollutants and to decide to either propose revised standards or to determine that revisions were not required. Similarly, EPA was to publish residual risk standards for the refinery process equipment covered by the two MACT rules, or to publish a determination they were not necessary. All of this would be completed by December, 2014, which was later modified and extended by the Court to April, 2015.
3. Public Comment Now Open on Two EPA Actions Addressing Refineries Published In Response to the Earthjustice/Environmental Integrity Project litigation
If you are concerned about the health effects of refinery emissions and ensuring that hazardous air pollutant emissions from petroleum refinery industry process equipment is regulated with state-of-the-art, Clean Air Act compliant rules, then consider filing comments in these two actions.
3.1 EPA's Proposed Fenceline Benzene Monitoring and Revised Petroleum Refinery Emission Control Rule
On May 15, 2014 EPA announced publication of a proposed rule which would require the following:
The agency’s proposal would, for the first time, require monitoring of air concentrations of benzene around the fenceline perimeter of refineries to assure that emissions are controlled and these results would be available to the public. The proposal would also require upgraded emission controls for storage tanks including controls for smaller tanks; performance requirements for flares to ensure that waste gases are properly destroyed; and emissions standards for delayed coking units which are currently a significant unregulated source of toxic air emissions at refineries.EPA subsequently published the proposed rule in the Federal Register on June 30, 2014.
The EPA proposal for fenceline monitoring for benzene would detect ambient concentrations of benzene caused by multiple sources of benzene-emitting process equipment at petroleum refineries.
The EPA inhalation carcinogenicity risk assessment for benzene is that the one in a million cancer risk level is equivalent to an annual average benzene exposure of an air concentration in the range of 0.13 to 0.45 micrograms per cubic meter. Because of the high risk produced per annual ambient human exposure for benzene, this makes benzene ambient monitoring an important tool for airborne toxicant evaluation and control.
Fence-line ambient air monitoring is also important because it will detect fugitive benzene releases from equipment whose fugitive emissions are not directed through a vent or stack so such emission units cannot be subjected to continuous emission monitoring and sampling requirements.
EPA's actions on flares, tanks and delayed coking units are also elements of emission control requirements that citizen environmental groups have been seeking for a considerable period of time.
EPA extended the public comment period on the proposed rules for refinery emissions to October, 28, 2014.
3.2 EPA's Clearinghouse on Inventories & Emissions Factors (CHIEF) Publishes Proposed Revised Emission Factors for Flares and Other Refinery Process Equipment
On August 19, 2014, EPA Clearinghouse on Inventories & Emission Factors (CHIEF) published the following statement:
EPA is proposing new and revised emissions factors for flares and new emissions factors for certain refinery process units. We are also proposing revisions to the refinery protocol document and proposing no changes to VOC emissions factors for tanks and wastewater treatment systems. We seek your comments on all aspects of these proposed actions regarding new and revised emissions factors for flares, proposed revisions to the refinery protocol document, as well as on the newly proposed emission factors for certain process units at refineries. We also seek your comments on our proposed determination that revisions to the VOC emission factors for tanks and wastewater treatment systems are not necessary.AP-42 emission factors published by EPA's CHIEF operation are used to determine emission factors for reporting emission inventories from individual pieces of refinery process equipment. AP-42 emission factors are sometimes used in air permit application evaluation and issuance as well. Accurate health risk assessment of refinery emissions requires accurate and appropriate emission factors to make proper determinations.
For flares, EPA proposes to add a 0.55 lbs of VOC per million BTU factor to the present factor for total hydrocarbon as methane 0.14 lbs per million BTU.
For nitrogen oxide emissions, EPA is proposing a big emission factor change that would indicate flares to have far higher nitrogen oxide emissions than previously identified, with a proposed NOX factor of 2.9 lbs NOX per million BTU (up by a factor of about 43 times over the previous factor of 0.068 lbs NOX/MMBTU). This big increase in the emission factor means that EPA and States have been significantly underestimating nitrogen oxide emissions from flares across the country.
Sulfur recovery units are getting new, first-ever emission factors for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and total hydrocarbon and the sulfur dioxide emission factor is proposed to be significantly reduced for the control level of sulfur recovery units.
Finally, EPA is proposing a new emission factors for hydrogen cyanide from fluidized catalytic cracking units, total hydrocarbon from catalytic reforming units and nitrogen oxides from hydrogen plants.
According to EPA:
We seek your comments on all aspects of these proposed actions regarding new and revised emission factors for flares, and the proposed revisions to the refinery protocol document, as well as on the newly proposed emission factors for certain process units at refineries. We also seek your comments on our proposed determination that revisions to the VOC emission factors for tanks and wastewater treatment systems are not necessary. Please submit your written comments on the above referenced documents and the proposed actions to AP-42 by October 19, 2014. Comments should be e-mailed to email@example.com