Energy & Environment

EPA faces lawsuit alleging failure to update flaring requirements

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A coalition of environmental groups is taking legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s alleged failure to update requirements for an industrial process for burning pollutants. 

The groups alleged in a notice of intent to sue that the EPA has not updated its requirements for the process, called flaring, since 1986 despite a requirement to do so every eight years. 

Flaring is a process used in industries such as the oil and gas industry as well as the petrochemical industry in which companies attempt to burn waste gases, which can include some that can harm health and the environment. 

“The problem is that the current standards for flares are very outdated, they’re 34 years old at this point and they don’t look at certain things that are really necessary to make sure flares are operating properly,” Adam Kron, a lawyer on the case, told The Hill, adding that he would like to see improved monitoring requirements. 

Data from around the time that the 1986 flaring rule was put forth indicated that flares destroyed about 98 percent of pollutants. More recently, however, the agency found that ethylene flares only destroy about 90.4 percent. 

Kron is an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. His organization and nine others filed the notice on Thursday. 

The lawyer said that one of the biggest health risks from exposure to flaring is respiratory issues. 

AN EPA official declined to comment, saying that the agency doesn’t discuss notices of intent to sue. 


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