Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvanians and others across the nation could breathe a little easier if new Environmental Protection Agency standards are put in place that would require oil companies to clean up toxic pollution released into the air from their refineries.
Some of their pollutants - particularly benzene - are believed to cause cancer.
Emma Cheuse, a senior associate attorney for Earthjustice, said this is a step in the right direction.
"The first step to being able to protect our communities' health," she said, "is to at least know what's going into the air from all different kinds of sources that can leak and put pollution out at oil refineries."
The EPA is asking for public comment this summer, with final rules expected to be in place next spring. The proposed rules would require companies to monitor toxic air pollution on-site as it is emitted. Cheuse said she thinks it's especially important for protecting children's health.
"As Americans, none of us wants our kids to have to face extra cancer risk just because we happen to live near an industrial plant," she said, "and EPA is taking a really important, common-sense step."
The proposal calls for improved monitoring and combustion efficiency requirements when waste gas is burned. It says flaring is a key source of air pollution in the refining process.
The proposals are online at epa.gov. Pennsylvania refinery data is at eia.gov.