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White House Reviewing Refinery RTR Rule
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On August 27, EPA sent its final refinery residual risk rule (RTR) to the White House Office of Management and Budget putting the agency on track to finish the long-delayed regulation by a September 30 legal deadline.

EPA last updated its air toxics standards for refineries more than 20 years ago, even though the law requires the agency to review the standards every eight years.


The projected costs of the refinery regulation is about $42mn/yr, the agency said when it proposed it in May 2014.  EPA expects the regulation will have a negligible effect on fuel prices, with the costs of refined products increasing by less than 0.0001pc.  The rule should cut toxic air emissions by 5,600 t/yr while cutting volatile organic compounds by 52,000 t/yr, EPA expects.


The rules as proposed requires refineries to install additional emission controls for storage tanks and coking units.  EPA also updated its standards for flares to make sure they can destroy hazardous air pollutants in response to concerns that increasing volumes of steam in flares was reducing their combustion efficiency.  EPA also proposed requiring refineries to install passive fenceline air quality monitoring systems that would be sampled every two weeks, at a total cost of $6mn/yr.  Environmentalists and public health groups have pushed the agency to require real-time air quality monitoring systems that would cost about $33mn/yr because of concerns about short-term spikes in toxic air pollutants that passive systems would not detect.


Another major change in the rule is EPA's plan to phase out provisions that exempted refineries from having to pay for Clean Air Act penalties for violating emission limits during startup, shutdowns and malfunction (SSM) events.  A federal appeals court has found those types of provisions are illegal, which has prompted EPA to systematically remove them from its regulations.
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