Despite several studies suggesting toxic emissions from refineries are underestimated, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continually failed to review and revise emissions factors for health and life-threatening pollutants.
Now, five environmental justice groups are suing the agency for failure to comply with the Clean Air Act. The groups, the Environmental Integrity Project, Air Alliance Houston, Texas Environmental Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Community In-power and Development Association, Inc. (CIDA), and Louisiana Bucket Brigade, assert that EPA failures are leading to undue health and safety risks for the Gulf Area population.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA Administrator is required to review and (if necessary) revise the emissions factors used to estimate emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from emission sources at least once every three years. However, according to the notice of intent preceding the lawsuit, “EPA has not reviewed emission factors for flares since 1991,” for wastewater treatment systems since 1998, and emission equations for tanks since 2006.
Said TEJAS executive director Juan Parras, “EPA needs to protect public health and the environment, and there are no excuses to further delay long overdue action to revise inaccurate emission factors consistent with scientific studies.”