Study finds US refining emissions fell over 2 decades, AFPM says

US refining emissions dropped substantially in the last 2 decades as petroleum product production increased, research commissioned by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers found.

The study by Sage Environmental Consulting of US Environmental Protection Agency data revealed a significant reduction in both criteria air pollutant (CAP) emissions and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emissions from 1990 to 2013, AFPM said Apr. 23 as it released the findings.

It said the analysis also found that primary CAP emissions—sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds—fell by 91%, 67%, and 69%, respectively, despite crude oil feedstocks’ density and sulfur content climbing more than 16% during the study period. Total US HAP emissions also declined by 66%, it added.

EPA has proposed new emissions control standards to reduce ground-level ozone from the current 75 ppb limit to 65-70 ppb, AFPM noted. The existing limit was enacted in 2008, but EPA did not finalize implementation regulations until February, AFPM said.

“The numbers don’t lie,” AFPM Pres. Charles T. Drevna said. “EPA’s data show US air quality continues to improve, despite arguments to the contrary, and domestic refiners have significantly contributed to that trend. The air is cleaner today than it ever has been, and so are fuel manufacturing operations.”

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