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Environmental groups sue EPA over refinery emissions

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Air Alliance Houston and three other environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to force federal regulators to review the way in which they calculate emissions from petrochemical plants, oil refineries and other large industrial facilities.

The groups have accused the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of using inaccurate and outdated formulas to estimate air pollution levels, citing studies that show actual smog forming emissions to be up to 132 times greater than EPA estimates. These estimates are based upon data provided by the industry, and the groups have insisted that they are unreliable, and incapable of providing for the protection of public health.

This lawsuit comes five years after the city of Houston raised similar issues with the EPA, following which the agency acknowledged flaws in its formulas and promised to make changes. However, the EPA has not yet conducted a review of the formulas used to estimate emissions from flares, wastewater treatment systems and storage tanks at chemical plants and oil refineries, the suit contends.

Flare emissions have been raised as a particular concern, as the EPA relies on a 30 year old study to calculate their emissions.

An EPA spokesperson has said that they are reviewing the suit.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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