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EPA Vows Refinery-Pollution Crackdown EPA Vows Refinery-Pollution Crackdown

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EPA Vows Refinery-Pollution Crackdown


By Ben Geman (@ben_geman) and Jason Plautz (@jason_plautz)

EPA VOWS REFINERY-POLLUTION CRACKDOWN. The agency floated draft rules Thursday that would force oil refiners to cut emissions of toxic pollutants such as benzene that contribute to respiratory woes and increase cancer risks for nearby communities.


EPA estimates that the rule, when fully implemented, would cut emissions of air toxics like benzene, toluene, and xylene by 5,600 tons per year, while emissions of volatile organic compounds—which are linked to a suite of health problems—would fall by roughly 52,000 tons annually.

"The commonsense steps we are proposing will protect the health of families who live near refineries and will provide them with important information about the quality of the air they breathe," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

EPA said the plan would have no "noticeable" effect on the cost of petroleum products made at roughly 150 refineries nationwide.


The draft rule stems from a consent decree with the environmental groups Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project, who had sued EPA on behalf of people living near refineries in California, Louisiana, and Texas.

But that drew quick pushback from the oil industry. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group for producers of refined products such as gasoline, said the risks from the emissions don't justify the new pollution-control mandates. "The rule requires some unprecedented changes such as fence-line monitors that are not justified by the risk findings," the group said.

WYOMING GOV: FIGHT THE CLIMATE CHANGE WE'RE NOT CAUSING. GOP Gov. Matt Mead isn't backing off his climate skepticism, but argues there's nonetheless a case for investment in low-emissions coal technology.

"I'm not a scientist. I could be wrong on this," Mead said in a speech Wednesday, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. "So let's just assume for today, that I am wrong. Let's assume that, in fact, coal-fired generation is the cause of global warming. Then the question is: What is being done and what should be done?"


His answer? Continued programs to develop low-carbon coal technologies. The story continues: "Coal companies' weak earnings reports suggest the markets believe in climate change and are moving toward lower carbon options, Mead said. Whether one believes in climate change, Wyoming needs to respond to that shift, the governor argued."

Wyoming is the nation's top coal-producing state. (Benjamin Storrow, Casper Star-Tribune)

REPORT: OBAMA GETS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH CLIMATE RULE. President Obama, in early June, will personally unveil draft EPA rules to set first-time carbon-emissions standards for the nation's existing power plants, according to Bloomberg. "After relegating climate change to the back burner during his first term, Obama would be taking an unusual step of announcing regulatory proposals before they are finalized by the federal government and years before they would be implemented," the news service reports. (Lisa Lerer and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg)

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BIG OIL (FRENCH VERSION) STAYS WITH PUTIN. French oil giant Total, like fellow majors Exxon and BP, is sticking with its Russian investments and "hoping the current tensions between Western governments and Moscow prove to be a temporary problem." (Geraldine Amiel, Wall Street Journal)

PUTIN TO UKRAINE: PREPAY FOR NATURAL GAS. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that beginning next month, Russia will only deliver gas to Ukraine that has been paid for in advance. From the Associated Press: "Putin said in a letter to European leaders that Ukraine's debt for Russian gas supplies has reached $3.5 billion, and because of its refusal to pay Moscow, it will have to switch to prepaid gas deliveries starting from June 1." (Nataliya Vasilyeva And Vladimir Isachenkov, AP)

PIPELINE RUPTURE SPILLS OIL THROUGH L.A. A ruptured pipeline sent an estimated 10,000 gallons of crude oil over a half-mile area in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles this morning. The pipeline was operated by Plains Pipeline LP, which said that 500 barrels or less had leaked. (Reuters)

HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE RELEASES WATER-PROJECTS BILL. House and Senate conferees today released a final agreement on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which authorizes billions for ports, flood control, and other water projects across the country. The compromise bill, which is expected to be voted on next week, includes language on construction techniques to combat extreme weather, ecosystem protection, and a water-infrastructure financing tool (highlights are here).

BEE DEATHS DOWN. Beekeepers lost nearly a quarter of the nation's honeybee population this winter, according to a survey released this morning by the Bee Informed Partnership and the Agriculture Department. But that's an improvement over the average 29.6 percent loss rate since 2006 with the rise of colony-collapse disorder, which has decimated the pollinator population.

PUT AWAY THE SCUBA SUIT. An aide to California Gov. Jerry Brown said that Brown misspoke when he said that sea-level rise would flood L.A.'s airport and force a costly relocation. The airport has enough elevation and is protected from the west by coastal bluffs, so a four-foot sea level rise isn't expected to cause a problem, a spokesman for the airport said. (Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times)

CLIMATE CHANGE'S LATEST VICTIM: CREDIT RATINGS? Climate change is threatening to hurt nations' creditworthiness, according to Standard & Poor's. The ratings service said in a new report that global warming will affect countries' economic growth rates, public finances, and more. (NBC News)


CAN CONGRESS EVER HAVE A REASONABLE ENERGY DEBATE? What will it take for lawmakers to pass an energy bill or carry out meaningful debate on energy policy? How might the political calculus on energy change after the midterm elections? And what gets lost when bipartisan bills can't get to a vote?

"More U.S. production and consumption of fossil fuels tends to contribute to GHG emissions, which affect climate patterns for all. Climate change is not a top-drawer issue for most constituents, but there is support in both parties for measures to deal with it." – Michael Canes, distinguished fellow, LMI

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders


GLOBAL ENERGY DISCUSSION. The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on the changing role of the U.S. in global energy.

CHINA CLIMATE-CHANGE REPORT. The Center for American Progress releases a report titled "Climate Change, Migration, and Nontraditional Security Threats in China."

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