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US refiners’ contribution to clean air

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

New analysis concludes that emissions from US fuel manufacturers have decreased substantially over the last 20 years, even as US petroleum fuel production increased during the same time period. These findings, combined with other EPA data showing continues and significant reduction in all criteria pollutants economy wide, raise further questions regarding EPA’s rationale for proposing new NAAQS.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) commissioned Sage Environmental Consulting to conduct the analysis. Using EPA data, the report revealed a significant reduction in both criteria air pollutant (CAP) emissions and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emissions during the period of investigation from 1990 – 2013. The analysis also highlights that despite density and sulphur content of crude oil feedstocks increasing over 16% during the study period, the primary CAP emissions, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, fell by 91%, 67% and 69% respectively. Total HAP emissions similarly declined by 66%.

AFPM President, Charles T. Drevna said, “the numbers don’t lie. EPA’s data shows US air quality continues to improve, despite arguments to the contrary, and domestic refiners have significantly contributed to that trend. The air is cleaner today than it ever has been and so are fuel manufacturing operations.”

EPA is in the process of finalising new emissions control standards to reduce ground level ozone from the current level of 75 ppb to between 65 and 70 ppb, a rule making that could reduce US GDP by as much as US$140 billion /t according to a recent report. The current standard was enacted in 2008, but the agency did not finalise implementation regulations until February 2015.

Drevna concluded, “the refining industry’s demonstrated commitment to improving efficiencies and investing in technological advancements to process both heavier and lighter crude oils will guarantee further emissions reductions without overly burdensome new requirements. It is important to recognise that ozone forming emissions will continue to decrease due to the 2008 ozone standard, the implementation of which did not even begin until earlier this year. Revisiting the standard now typifies the proverbial analogy about moving the goal posts. Policy makers need to look at these facts before approving little to no benefit regulations that will impose additional costs on domestic manufacturers."

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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