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They’d Like to Stay Mum

Oil refineries are by some estimates the second-largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions. They also are a major source of toxic air pollution, pumping benzene, toluene and hexane into our air. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Toluene can cause neurological harm when inhaled. And hexane causes severe harm when humans are continually exposed to it.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency is developing air pollution standards for the oil refineries after a settlement agreement reached last December in a case Earthjustice brought. But if industry has its way, these standards won’t see the light of day.

On Thursday, Earthjustice filed an intervention to defend the EPA in its first step to securing these standards, calling on these oil refineries to submit data on the amount of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants they are putting into the air. Only with this information will the EPA be able to set strong air pollution standards.

According to the terms of the settlement, the EPA is required to propose a standard for greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from oil refineries by December 2011 and is to issue final standards by November 2012.

Yet again, industry is trying to use any means possible to avoid following the law. And in the process they are standing in the way of an important health protection that would likely save American lives.

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