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Mossville group applauds EPA decision to reconsider ruling

Last Modified: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:28 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

MOSSVILLE — Environmental activists are cautiously optimistic about their chances of persuading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to apply more stringent emissions rules to chemical plants that produce polyvinyl chloride.

On Sept. 28, the EPA announced that it would reconsider its April ruling for the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Polyvinyl Chloride and Copolymers Production on the basis of “petitioners’ claims that the public was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to comment on emission limits in the final rule for process vents, process wastewater and stripped resin for major and area sources,” as stated in a letter forwarded to Saint-Gobain (the company that owns CertainTeed Polymer on Pete Manena Road in Westlake), PolyOne Corp., based in Ohio, and the Vinyl Institute.

The government’s decision was in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of several environmental advocacy groups in Washington, D.C., in June and a separate petition requesting another review of the standards.

Dorthy Felix, president of Mossville Environmental Action Now, applauded the government’s decision.

“This is a step forward for a better national decision that will protect communities like Mossville. We hope that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will be strong in her decision-making to consider that PVC has, will and is destroying many lives in communities,” she said.

MEAN joined with Earthjustice, Air Alliance Houston, the Sierra Club and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network in the lawsuits and petition. The organizations have argued that the standards set by the EPA to govern 17 vinyl-producing facilities do not go far enough to limit emissions.

Activists from Mossville and Deer Park, Texas, are the central players in the lawsuit and petition. Those groups believe the EPA rules allow CertainTeed in Westlake and OxyVinyl in Deer Park to emit more toxic chemicals into the air than allowed at other PVC plants.

“Just to have them reconsider is good for us. This is something that seems to be headed in our favor. When they collect data, we hope they just don’t use information from CertainTeed,” Felix said.

Emma Cheuse, an attorney with Earthjustice, said members of the public need to communicate with the EPA and encourage it to consider the health of Mossville residents.

“We are very hopeful, because of concerns raised, that EPA will do a much better job to protect communities,” she said.

She characterized the government’s decision to reconsider its ruling as “a win.”

What process the EPA will use during its time to reconsider its rules has not been announced.

“But we do expect the EPA to take time to re-evaluate. They will then issue a new ruling and take public comment on that,” Cheuse said.

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