Citizens Petition EPA for Review of Clean Air Act (CAA) Emissions Factors
A group of Texas and Louisiana environmental groups have filed a citizens suit in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals to demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") review emissions factors used to estimate emissions of volatile organic compounds and certain toxic air pollutants from flares, tanks and wastewater treatment systems. The group alleges that EPA has failed to review AP-42 (Compilation of Air Pollutant Emissions Factors Volume I: Stationary Point and Air Sources) since 1991, and has not reviewed the EPA Locating and Estimating Air Toxics Emissions Series since at least 2006.
The groups point to numerous studies that suggest these emissions factors are out of date, inconsistent with EPA’s own science, and underestimate actual emissions from refineries and petrochemical plants. They go on to request that the Court order EPA to review the emissions factors and revise them, as necessary. Any ratcheting down of emissions factors would have significant implications on compliance. An interesting aspect of the petition is that the environmental groups may agree with industry on one point at least – that existing flare rules assume 98%-99% destruction removal efficiency. Flaring issues are currently a significant enforcement initiative for EPA and the subject of significant enforcement actions being issued by EPA Region VI. See Air Alliance Houston v. EPA, D.C. Cir, Case No.______.