In another piece of encouraging news, the U.S. Court of Appeals decided on Friday to close a gaping loophole in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on refinery pollution by striking down a provision that allowed refineries to exceed pollution limits during start-ups, shut-downs, and equipment outages.
According to a suit filed by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental defense firm, on behalf of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, refineries have overused and/or abused this regulation, enabling them to spew tens of millions of pounds of excess toxic pollutants annually.
"We are elated," said Jesse Marquez, head of the Wilmington, CA-based Coalition for a Safe Environment, a plaintiff in the suit.
The court had ruled that the EPA's regulation exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act. This ruling will impact facilities nationwide, particularly in Southern California, Texas, and Louisiana where there are concentrations of refinery facilities.