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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.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first rule of the Biden administration to combat climate change. EPA Administrator Michael Regan has announced that the rule implementing the 15-year phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) passed by Congress last year.
Why This Matters: Although HFCs have an atmospheric lifetime of about 15 years, which is less than any other GHG, and the most common type is 3,790 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new study released this week in the journal Science Advances reveals that people of color across America are exposed to more pollution from nearly every source than white communities. This includes pollution from heavy industry, power generation, agriculture, transportation, construction, etc. Black Americans suffer most from pollution exposure, […]
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