US refiners, petchems oppose new air standard

30 August 2007 20:38  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US refining and petrochemical officials warned on Thursday that proposed changes in US air quality standards are not necessary and cannot be met with existing technology.


Testifying at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a refining industry spokesman charged that in seeking to raise a key air quality standard nationwide, the agency is “moving the goalposts in the middle of the game”.


The agency wants to strengthen the maximum levels for ground-level ozone allowed under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by lowering the current standard of 0.08 parts per million (ppm) for ozone in outdoor air to as little as 0.06 ppm.


The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) noted in its testimony that many US states have not yet completed plans to meet the current 0.08 ppm standard and said that EPA should instead focus on helping those areas of the country come into compliance with the existing requirement.


In addition, said NPRA environment director David Friedman, there have been steady and significant declines in US ozone and other pollutant levels, so there is no apparent need to raise the standard.


“There are many questions regarding the state of the science and, in particular, whether there have been any significant developments over the past ten years that would warrant further revisions of the standard,” Friedman said.


Friedman noted that the agency’s own impact analysis of the proposed 0.06 ppm standard indicates that level could not be reached even with application of all known ozone reduction technologies.


“EPA admits existing technologies are insufficient to meet the proposed standard and simply assumes that new technologies will become available that can double emission reductions,” Friedman said.


US refiners, chemical producers and other manufacturers opposing the new standard are worried that it would accelerate the shift from coal to natural gas for electric power generation, raising operating costs sharply and driving still more US manufacturing offshore.


The Philadelphia meeting was the first of four public hearings that the agency is holding in various cities this month before issuing a final rule early next year. The EPA has indicated that it might put the standard at 0.07 or 0.075 ppm rather than the lower 0.06 ppm level.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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