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State group joins suit against EPA over refineries

Last Modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 11:56 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana Bucket Brigade and other environmental groups around the nation are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to force the agency to cut air emissions of the most toxic, cancer-causing chemicals released by 150 oil refineries in 32 states.

The Times-Picayune reported the suit contends EPA's rules are based on inaccurate estimates of emissions released by refineries and allow the use of outdated technology.

Under the Clean Air Act, standards to reduce risks to people are to be reconsidered every eight years. Environmentalists charge that EPA has not done enough to reduce emissions.

In early September, EPA submitted proposed emissions regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

That action came only a few weeks after the environmental organizations informed EPA that they intended to file Thursday's suit, as required by law.

Updating the regulations "would trigger a lot more action" by state officials, both in requiring emissions reductions, and in increased fines and possible criminal actions when new emission limits are topped, said the Bucket Brigade's Anna Hrybyk.

The 17 refineries in Louisiana released 5.8 million pounds of the cancer-causing chemicals in 2010, according to EPA statistics. That included 431,000 pounds from the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery, then owned by BP, and 467,000 pounds from the Motiva Enterprises LLC-Norco Refinery. The Bucket Brigade says more than 200,000 people live within two miles of Louisiana's refineries.

The Bucket Brigade has been campaigning against what it contends are unnecessary releases of chemicals at refineries in Louisiana during accidents for several years.

Joining the Bucket Brigade in filing suit are Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, California Communities Against Toxics, Coalition for a Safe Environment, Del Amo Action Committee, Community In-Power Development Association, Air Alliance Houston and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

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