November 28, 2011

EPA delays emissions rules for US refineries

Via Environmental Experts

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looks set to delay the United States' first ever regulations on emissions from oil refineries in the latest in a series of controversial postponements of environmental rules.

An announcement on how the agency planned to regulate emissions had been expected in mid-December with the rules due to finalized by the end of 2012, after the EPA agreed a settlement with states and environmental groups.

But in a statement issued yesterday, the EPA said it "expects to need more time to complete work on greenhouse gas pollution standards for oil refineries, and is working with the [states and environmental groups] to develop a new schedule".

The plans have proved controversial as oil companies have claimed it is more difficult for the industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions than it is for the power sector, which can deliver cuts in emissions by switching from coal to natural gas, nuclear, or renewables. By contrast, most refineries run on natural gas already and operators claim they would struggle to deliver deeper emission cuts at reasonable cost.

However, green campaigners told news agency Reuters that refineries can make savings by replacing inefficient boilers, installing better valves to reduce methane leaks, and using waste heat to generate power.

The EPA's latest delay will further anger environmental campaigners already furious over a series of delays to environmental legislation that are widely seen as an example of the White House caving in to those Republicans and business lobby groups campaigning against action to curb emissions.

The Obama administration has this year put off regulations on power plant emissions and smog-forming pollutants, saying it wants to lighten the regulatory load on businesses.

However, concerns have been raised that the move will put at risk the country's 2020 target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels.



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