EPA sued by environmental groups for “failure” of industrial flare rules


Ten environmental organizations have gone to court with a lawsuit accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of failing to reduce toxic air pollution from industrial flares at petrochemical plants, gas processing facilities and other large industrial sites.

The lawsuits, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, contend the EPA has not updated two sets of air pollution control standards for industrial flares in decades. In one case, it was 34 years while in the second set, it was 26 years. The federal Clean Air Act requires the EPA to update the standards at least once every eight years.

“Due to the Administrator’s ongoing failures to take the actions required—the NSPS General Flare Requirements and NESHAP General Flare Requirements remain outdated, and flares subject to these standards do not operate at the expected destruction efficiency, releasing excess harmful, toxic, and smog-forming pollutants into the air,” stated the lawsuit.

“It’s been far too long since EPA updated these industrial flare standards, and EPA is well aware of the problem,” said Adam Kron, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).  “Time and time again over the past decade, EPA has admitted that flares operating under these outdated standards can release many times more toxic air pollutants into local communities than estimated.  This can cause serious harm to public health.”

Thousands of industrial flares burn across the country, eliminating excess waste gases but at the same time releasing smog-forming volatile organic compounds, hazardous pollutants and others that the environmental groups contend threaten the health of people who live downwind.

The Clean Air Council announced that the organizations that filed the lawsuit –– following notices of intent to sue EPA sent on June 11 and August 17, 2020 – are EIP, Clean Air Council, Air Alliance Houston, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Earthworks, Environment America, Environment Texas, Hoosier Environmental Council, PennEnvironment, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Source: Clean Air Council.


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