DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (AP) — Southern California air regulators on Friday approved new restrictions on the region’s oil refineries and other factories that can remove a lot of smog-forming pollutants from the air.
The board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted changes to regulations requiring emissions limits on oxides of nitrogen, which would affect nine refineries and seven plants that produce asphalt, biofuel plants, hydrogen and sulfuric acid.
Oxides of nitrogen, collectively known as NOx, are formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures. The gases can be produced by cars and by industrial sources such as refineries and power plants. They are a major component in causing ozone pollution.
The new rules will reduce NOx emissions by about eight tons per day over the next 14 years, are expected to cut by about half by 2023 and will go a long way in helping the region meet certain federal air quality standards by 2031, AQMD said.
AQMD Board Chairman Ben J. “Once implemented, this rule will have immediate benefits to our air quality, especially for those living near these facilities that are directly affected,” Benoit said in the statement. “We estimate that the public health benefits achieved through this rule will help avoid 370 premature deaths and more than 6,200 asthma attacks.”
The rules apply to some 300 pieces of combustion equipment in facilities such as boilers and gas turbines. The rules, which will go into effect in a decade, provide two ways to meet the new requirements and also prohibit refineries from buying credit to compensate for the pollution they produce.
According to the September AQMD study session, the total cost of implementing the new regulations is estimated at about $2.3 billion, but the reduction in health costs from pollution is expected to be around $2.6 billion.
The Western States Petroleum Association, which represents oil companies, called it “a strong rule”.
“The industry is committed to making the rule a success by making substantial investments to reduce emissions,” Patti Senecal, the association’s Southern California region director, told the Daily Breeze..
The vote was also praised by environmental groups.
“These reductions are critically important; Southern California suffers from some of the dirtiest air in the country and fails to meet state and national air quality standards,” said a statement from the Coalition for Clean Air.
The coalition said most of the state’s oil refinery capacity is located in areas with large low-income and minority populations in the Los Angeles port neighborhoods of Wilmington, Carson and western Long Beach.
“Today’s vote is a victory for clean air, a clean economy and environmental justice,” said Chris Chavez, the coalition’s deputy policy director.