American Petroleum Institute concerned about EPA refinery rules

Michael P. Tremoglie Feb. 20, 2012, 8:58am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- An American Petroleum Institute official has expressed concern about new rules for refineries the Environmental Protection Agency is implementing.

Howard Feldman, API's director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said during a Feb. 10 press conference that during the past 20 years, American oil companies have invested roughly $125 billion to make refineries "safer, cleaner and more efficient in ways that have resulted in significant air quality improvements, all while competing with foreign refineries."

What is disconcerting to the industry is "a wave of proposed EPA regulations" that could have a deleterious effect on American refineries.

He noted that the industry spent much of last year concentrating on an "out-of-cycle proposal to issue much more stringent ozone standards that, fortunately, was withdrawn."

But that was only the beginning the EPA has proposed "a veritable tsunami of added requirements that could put some refineries out of business, diminish U.S. fuel manufacturing capacity, and increase our reliance on imported fuels."

Feldman said these pending rules include EPA's Tier 3 gasoline rules, greenhouse gas rules for refineries, new source performance standards for refineries, phase III of EPA's tailoring rule, and the Boiler MACT rule.

"While the specific elements for these have not all been set forth, they could constitute. At the same time, data suggest that the environmental benefits would be modest," Feldman said.

Feldman said that four American refineries closed last year. Imposing new regulatory costs in addition to the existing would close even more refineries.

"The greenhouse gas refinery rules are of great concern. Given that the Clean Air Act was simply not designed to address greenhouse gases, if EPA is going to proceed, it is critical that the process be open and transparent," said Feldman. "We are now past the date the agency said it would propose the new refinery greenhouse gas rules, but still without clarity on how the agency will proceed. We believe the best approach would be to start with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on all of its forthcoming refinery rules to permit a full consideration of all ideas on how this kind of regulation could be structured."

He said the industry wants the EPA to consider stakeholder concerns and the economic impacts on refineries."

"The president himself has called on federal agencies to take into account the impact of regulations on jobs and the economy,' Feldman said. "This is an opportunity for EPA to do just that. Maintaining a healthy and competitive refinery sector is vital to our energy security, our economic security and our national security."

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