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Ultimately, strengthening benzene regulations and punishing polluters lies with the federal government. Benjamin Kuntsman, a staff engineer at EIP, told Reuters, “If the Biden EPA wants to act on its environmental justice promises, these neighborhoods near refineries are a great place to start.”
The Law:As NOLA.com wrote, A 2015 EPA rule requires oil refineries to install air pollution monitors on their fencelines to measure how much benzene is escaping into surrounding areas. If the annual average exceeds 9 micrograms per cubic meter, refineries must search for the cause and take steps to fix it.
During the Trump administration, an all-out assault on environmental regulations saw little enforcement of existing benzene limits. This led to activists from around the United States bringing a lawsuit against the government for failing to project the public from known carcinogens.
Taking Action: In response to these dispiriting statistics, some oil refineries are attempting to address and correct the root causes of these benzene emissions. The EPA is looking to enforce its standards, telling the press that it was “committed to reducing benzene and other air toxic emissions from refineries and protecting those communities most at risk from air toxics.”
Louisiana, the state with the highest levels of benzene emissions, had five out of thirteen of the refineries on the EIP list. The state’s refineries— including Delek’s Krotz Springs refinery, the biggest benzene polluter — have indicated that they will implement measures to reduce benzene leakage. Delek, for example, has indicated that the 12-month benzene average will fall below nine micrograms per cubic meter by the summer.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The European Environment Agency (EEA) found that a majority of EU countries broke at least one air pollution limit last year — despite COVID-19 lockdowns. In addition, 17 EU countries failed to stay below ozone pollution targets, which directly influence global warming; and eight EU countries failed to stay […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer An Indonesian district court ruled yesterday that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has neglected Jakarta’s residents right to clean air. In a unanimous ruling in favor of the 32 residents who brought the case, the Central Jakarta District Court ordered Widodo, and six other top officials deemed negligent, to improve […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Decreasing air pollution increases people’s life expectancy by an average of 2.2 years, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that by bringing pollution across the globe down to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, a collective 17 billion years could be added to the planet’s population’s […]
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