EPA Proposes Crucial Protections Against Toxic Air Pollution from Petrochemical Facilities

EPA Must Adopt Strongest Possible Protections for People Living in Impacted Communities Across the U.S. – EDF

April 6, 2023
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – April 6, 2023) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed strengthening protections against the toxic and dangerous chemicals released into our air from some of the nation’s largest petrochemical facilities.

“Toxic air pollution from petrochemical facilities has been poisoning communities, especially the many low-income areas and communities of color that live in the shadow of these facilities,” said Dionne Delli-Gatti, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement for Environmental Defense Fund. “EPA’s proposal includes vital measures to reduce toxic petrochemical pollution, to hold polluters accountable, and to protect the people who have borne the brunt of the health threats from this pollution. The strongest possible final EPA standards will be an essential part of the broader strategy we urgently need to protect heavily impacted communities.”

The petrochemical facilities that are covered by today’s EPA proposal emit a wide range of toxic air pollutants, including ethylene oxide, benzene, vinyl chloride and chloroprene – chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

The standards EPA proposed today include vital measures to reduce this toxic petrochemical pollution. The proposal would require fenceline monitoring at these facilities to measure the concentration of dangerous chemicals at the edge of the property around an industrial site. The proposal also includes strengthened protections to reduce pollution from flares and an assessment of the toxic risks communities face that considers pollution from multiple nearby facilities.

Stronger protections are especially urgent in light of the extensive and well documented history of non-compliance at these chemical manufacturing facilities, many of which are also persistent violators of our nation’s clean water laws. EDF analyzed data from more than 200 of the largest chemical manufacturing facilities that would be likely be covered by the proposed standards and found that more than 50% of facilities are currently violating one or more of our nation’s environmental laws and more than 80% of facilities have been in noncompliance with some environmental laws in the past three years.

Almost 60% of the facilities covered by today’s proposal are located in Texas or Louisiana. 91% of the facilities in Texas and 80% of the facilities in Louisiana have been in noncompliance with one or more environmental laws during the last three years.

Today’s proposal is the second in two days designed to protect people from toxic air pollution. Yesterday EPA proposed strengthening our protections against mercury and other toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Next, EPA will hold a 60-day public comment period on the stronger standards for petrochemical facilities that were proposed today.

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