The US Environmental Protection Agency will update its almost two-decades-old toxic emissions standards for oil refineries and finalize new regulations by December 19, 2014, to settle a lawsuit brought by environmental and public health groups.
The EPA would propose new standards by February 14, before finalizing them 10 months later, in said it an announcement that will be published in Tuesday's Federal Register.
In addition, the EPA will also decide by February 14 whether it needs to create residual risk standards for oil refineries under the Clean Air Act.
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The agency said in its Federal Register notice that these actions would be part of a consent decree to settle the suit filed by Air Alliance Houston, California Communities Against Toxics, Environmental Integrity Project and other groups in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
The suit, Air Alliance Houston et al v. McCarthy, filed in September 2012, had accused the EPA of being long overdue in updating the toxic emissions standards, which were first issued in 1995 and are required under the Clean Air Act to be periodically reviewed and updated, if needed.
The groups say the toxic emissions, which include benzene, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides, can cause cancer, asthma and other ailments.
The consent decree will be available for public comment for 30 days.
The EPA has also missed a deadline under a different settlement with environmental groups, along with several states and local governments, to issue greenhouse gas regulations on oil refineries. Those rules were to have been finalized by November 2012.
--Herman Wang, email@example.com
--Edited by Jason Lindquist, firstname.lastname@example.org