Last month, the EPA and the Trump administration announced a decision to withdraw an air pollution rule meant to reduce the emissions of hazardous substances, including the air pollutant benzene, from chemical and other industrial facilities.
Under the former policy, which was in place for 23 years, once a facility was designated as a major hazardous air emissions source, it was always labeled as such. This meant that these facilities were required to bring emissions levels down based on how much was technologically possible for the facility’s lifetime. Under the new EPA guidelines released on Jan. 25, facilities identified as a major pollution source are able to be re-labeled as an “area” source if their emissions fall below a certain limit. Facilities labeled as area sources are required to adhere to weaker standards than those designated as major sources.
This change would undoubtedly affect the Houston area, as it is home to a network of chemical plants, oil refineries and other industry polluters that line the 50-mile-long Houston Ship Channel, which is known to many industry members as the petrochemical capital of the world.
Air Alliance Houston urges the EPA to enforce stricter regulations and prioritize human health and safety over industry growth. Our organization will continue to work to address and spread awareness about the harmful air pollutants affecting the lives of Houstonians today.