City petitions EPA for tougher pollution
counting, Press Release
City of Houston Petitions EPA for More Accurate Emissions
Assessments to End ?Undercounting? of Hazardous Air Pollutants
White today announced that the City of Houston is filing a petition to change
the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates hazardous
emissions from petrochemical and refining plants. The current system relies on
formulas, equations and assumptions, known as ?emission factors,? which have
been proven by direct observations of facilities to be inaccurate, unreliable
and biased toward undercounting.
The City is filing a formal ?Request for
Correction of Information? because it does not believe the current system meets
the legal standards under the federal Data Quality Act and EPA?s Information
Quality Guidelines. Scientific studies have confirmed that actual emissions from
petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing plants can be 100 times greater
than the EPA?s estimations.
The City?s official petition to the EPA notes
that direct observations at a number of facilities in the Houston area over a
several year period have shown that undercounting occurs in reports for emission
of both volatile organic compounds (?VOCs?) and hazardous air pollutants
(?HAPs?), such as benzene, a known carcinogen.
?We have the
responsibility of reducing these hazardous compounds in our air and holding
emitters accountable,? said Mayor White. ?We have got to have accurate data to
accomplish that. It can be done. The technologies exist, are in use and they are
Specifically, the City is requesting the EPA to take the
Expeditiously revise the emission factors based upon
accurate data, including direct observation.
Require the use annually of
direct observation through affordable and available technologies and the use of
fence-line monitoring to confirm reported emissions at the largest
Require the use of direct observation for facilities
undergoing modifications to document emissions reductions, for those that wish
to avoid installing pollution control technologies required under the Clean Air
The petition also cites some of the EPA?s own documents which show
it continues to use the erroneous emission factors even though it has
acknowledged their inaccuracy and unreliability on several occasions. This leads
to inaccurate emission inventories, which are relied upon by policy-makers to
develop laws, rules and programs to protect public health, says the filing.
To view the petition online, visit http://www.greenhoustontx.gov/reports.html.