Ending a Hazardous Waste Loophole for Oil Refineries

A Bush-era industry favor allows the nation’s oil refineries to burn unlimited amounts of hazardous waste every year without meeting public health protections. Earthjustice is suing to force the EPA to close this insult-to-injury loophole.

Case Overview

One of the surest ways for polluters to maintain sky-high profits is to stay dirty, which is why oil refiners no doubt rejoiced when in 2008 the Bush administration exempted them from key provisions of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This handout affords refineries great leniency in how they store and transport hazardous waste as well as the option to burn the hazardous wastes they generate onsite rather than disposing of them according to the law.

By exempting the burning of hazardous waste from Clean Air act and RCRA requirements enacted to control the resulting toxic emissions, EPA exposes people in neighboring communities to increased risk of brain damage, developmental problems, cancer and other serious illnesses.

Earthjustice is representing community groups that could be impacted by this exemption. Our lawsuit seeks to close the loophole and ensure that oil refineries follow the guidelines for disposing of hazardous substances that have been part of our nation’s laws for decades.

The Valero oil refinery in Port Arthur, TX.
The Valero oil refinery in Port Arthur, TX. (Eric Kayne / Earthjustice)

Case Updates

February 2, 2011 feature

A Success Story, with Many Chapters Still to Come

The Clean Air Act has substantially improved the lives of millions of Americans. Polluting industries have fought progress every step of the way. To protect your right to breathe, Earthjustice is working to ensure polluting industries don’t stand in the way of clean air protections.

February 1, 2011 Article

#Right2Breathe Recap: EPA Defends Bush-era Loophole

(Clean air is a life saver, which is why Earthjustice is working to ensure that polluters don’t stand in the way of safeguards against air pollution. Here’s a round up of some recent news in the ongoing campaign to protect our Right to Breathe.) Use the #right2breathe hashtag on Twitter to track campaign updates. EPA Defends Hazardous Waste Loophole Back in 2008, the Bush administration exempted oil refineries from safety requirements designed to protect the public from the storage, transport, and burning…