EPA Faces Lawsuit for Chronic Undercounting of Toxic Emissions at U.S. Oil & Gas Facilities, Refineries, Chemical Plants

Community Groups File Suit Due to EPA’s Failure to Meet Clean Air Act Deadlines to Revise Rules to Require More Accurate Reporting of Pollution

May 2, 2013

HOUSTON, TX & WASHINGTON, D.C.///May 2, 2013///Community groups in Texas and Louisiana — Air Alliance Houston, Community In-Power and Development Association (CIDA), Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) – represented by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) — have filed a lawsuit to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review outdated and inaccurate formulas that are used to report the levels of toxic emissions from refineries and chemical plants.

Recent studies at the Marathon, Shell Deer Park, and BP refineries measured actual emissions of volatile and toxic compounds at levels 10 to 100 times higher than estimates based on outdated and inaccurate “emission factors” currently used to report such releases.  Refineries reported releasing 37,895 tons of volatile compounds from flares, tanks, and wastewater treatment plants in 2010 alone.  But actual emissions may be an order of magnitude higher according to these and other scientific studies measuring refinery pollution, which means that more than a third of a million tons of these pollutants may go unreported each year.

The federal Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and revise the formulas used to estimate dangerous volatile organic compounds at least once every three years. But EPA has failed to do so even after receiving a petition from the City of Houston in 2008 asking EPA to close loopholes that allow hundreds of thousands of tons of pollution to escape detection and reporting each year. The lawsuit is a follow-up action to the “notice of intent” letter filed by the groups in July 2012.

For the press release, click here.

For the complaint, click here.

For the notice letter, click here.

For a summary of three scientific studies documenting huge volumes of uncounted pollution, click here.