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Protect those living in the shadow of oil refineries

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Last year the EPA released new air protections decreasing the amount of pollution oil refineries can emit and reducing some of the health threats faced by millions of Americans living in the shadows of oil refineries. This was a big win for communities breathing toxic air from oil refineries.

The problem is that Big Oil got through some last-minute loopholes in the rule.

First-time-ever national “fenceline” air monitoring is now required on the perimeter where pollution leaves oil refinery property and pours into neighboring communities. The monitors will measure the dangerous pollutant benzene, and if levels are too high, refineries will be required to take action to reduce their emissions.

But now the EPA has weakened this requirement by letting refineries reduce and even stop monitoring under certain circumstances. And more, the EPA has inserted exemptions that will allow refineries to release unlimited amounts of toxic air pollution from smoking flares and pressure-relief devices.

Communities deserve information about how much pollution they’re being exposed to, from every refinery. And communities need strong limits on toxic air that apply every day, all the time. Otherwise Big Oil will use these loopholes to escape the basic health protections all of our kids need and deserve.

We’re in courts across the nation to protect the rights of communities exposed to excessive air pollution. We worked with the Environmental Integrity Project and local communities to compel the EPA to secure this important rulemaking. The next step is for you to stand with us and fight Big Oil’s attempts to weaken public health protections for all Americans, which will be felt most in communities of color and low-income communities especially burdened by refinery pollution.

The oil industry knows the dangers and is fighting protections that will reduce exposure to toxic emissions. The EPA needs to be held accountable to put people first.

Tell EPA administrator Gina McCarthy that she must stand up to Big Oil, protect children and every community’s right to breathe clean, healthy air, and end all special treatment for oil refinery corporations at this urgent time.

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Focus Area: Clean Air


We need clean air every day (RE: EPA ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0682-0872)

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

Continue to show your commitment for overburdened communities and vulnerable children now, when it most counts--we need national air toxics limits for refineries to apply at all times, not just when it's convenient for oil companies.

I strongly urge the EPA to strengthen protections against toxic pollution from petroleum refineries and resist industry pressure to reduce the effectiveness of important new requirements like fenceline monitoring.

* The EPA must protect refinery communities and remove all of the FREE PASSES TO POLLUTE that would allow oil corporations to poison our air without any consequences. There are widely available and cost-effective ways to reduce toxic air pollution from oil refineries. Many releases are preventable through better maintenance and monitoring, and better control of the equipment. Equipment to prevent pollution while also conserving energy is also widely available.
* The EPA limits must apply at all times, to hold polluters accountable and give oil refineries the incentive to clean up the air and prevent upsets and malfunctions, instead of allowing uncontrolled pollution releases from smoking flares or pressure-relief devices.
* Health threats from refineries' toxic air pollution are too high. The scientific evidence and the EPA's policies confirm this. I am calling on the EPA to reconsider its refusal to prevent more cancer caused by oil refinery pollution. For communities in the shadow of refineries, every extra human cancer case and every moment a child has difficult breathing due to exposure to refinery pollution is unacceptable--especially on top of all of the other health and safety threats from refineries.
* The EPA must not allow refineries to reduce or stop air monitoring that communities need, and should not give in to industry pressure to weaken the national standards in the ways industry groups have asked the EPA to do.

I support the EPA's full implementation of important improvements in the standards--including limits on certain sources of toxic pollution at refineries and a first-ever requirement for all refineries to monitor, report and address fugitive emissions of benzene crossing their fencelines into neighboring communities. To be able to breathe freely, communities need the EPA to finish the job now, before it's too late, by exercising strong leadership and fulfilling its obligations under the law to remove all loopholes and prevent refineries from escaping fundamental clean air safeguards for public health.

We now have a rare opportunity to make our air cleaner and communities safer by finishing the important work the EPA started to control oil refinery pollution. Please seal the EPA's and President Obama's legacy by removing exemptions and showing that you stand with communities that need protection from toxic air pollution and the health and safety problems it causes every single day, not just some days. Please take action now to reduce harm to children living in the shadows of our nation's oil refineries, by preventing all uncontrolled pollution releases and removing this danger to public health.

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