In an article by Margot Roosevelt entitled "CA: Ruling may sharply reduce California refinery pollution", the LA Times (read it while it's still in business) reports:
Toxic air pollution spikes from California's 21 refineries may be sharply curtailed in the wake of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision Friday in Washington.
In a suit brought by the Sierra Club and other groups, the court struck down a 14-year-old federal regulation that allowed refineries, chemical plants and other industrial plants to exceed pollution limits during start-ups, shutdowns and equipment outages.
Public health advocates in Southern California's oil refinery hub hailed the decision, saying that facilities routinely operate in malfunction mode to evade pollution caps.
The Environmental Protection Agency regulation amounted to a "gaping loophole," according to the plaintiffs, represented by Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm. The court agreed, saying the agency had exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act.
"Under this notorious exemption, industrial facilities have been allowed to operate like a fleet of junk cars parked in neighborhoods, spewing smoke, misfiring, stalling and chugging," said Marti Sinclair, a Sierra Club official.
William Tanner, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, which owns refineries in Wilmington, Santa Maria and San Francisco, said he could not comment on the lawsuit.
"Our preference is never to flare," he said. "However, flares are federally approved safety devices that allow refining operations to shut down in an environmentally sound manner."
Local air pollution rules require industries to reduce flares by 2012. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has set up so that residents can be notified when flares occur.
The Ninth Circuit's ruling, of course, will only further encourage industry to get out of California (and perhaps Ninth Circuit jurisdiction) entirely, thereby reducing industrial jobs and our access to energy. Isn't it beautiful? Between the Courts and the California Air Resources Board (which just enacted potentially industry-crippling regulations to attempt to roll greenhouse gas levels back to 1990), these regulators' global-warming concerns have put California on its way to producing enough jobs and energy by 2012 to support a 1970's economy. All this in the midst of a Nation-wide cold spell of historic proportions.
Thank goodness the geniuses in Sacramento and Washington D.C., in enacting regulations, are so much smarter than are we. Perhaps these regulators can do the same masterful job on energy that they have done for the economy in general. Certainly their record justifies us putting even more power in their hands, doesn't it?