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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 Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan to implement final standards to protect residents from the adverse impacts of municipal landfills. The Trump administration previously tried to delay these protections and waive restrictions on other sources of methane emissions. The EPA’s new standards are just one in a series […]
The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Limetree Bay refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands to close for at least 60 days because its operation is an “imminent risk to public health,” the agency said in a statement.
Why This Matters: The air pollution and oil that were being emitted at the plant have long caused harm to the people of St. Croix, a majority Black island.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Air pollution from animal farms leads to nearly 13,000 deaths annually, according to a new study that links food protection and air quality harms. The manure and animal feed from farms produce fine-particle pollution that leads to breathing issues as well as long-term health issues like heart disease and […]
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