364 different NGOs cosigned a 2017 EPA petition to update New Source Performance Standards and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants that apply to facilities that convert fossil fuels into plastics.
Petitioners note that prohibiting the flaring of flammable gases would reduce toxic air pollutants in nearby communities, and that continuous emissions monitoring and fence-line monitoring could protect frontline communities by ensuring leaks are detected and repaired in a timely fashion and emissions limits are constantly met. Given the extensive greenhouse gas pollution from natural gas extraction and the breakdown of plastics, petitioners recommend that EPA require plastic plants to be powered by renewable energy sources that do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions.
Primarily, Petitioners request that EPA take these five actions:
1. List ethylene, propylene, polyethylene, and polypropylene production facilities as a source category under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act and promulgate standards under this section for nitrogen oxides and other pollutants from these sources;
2. Require all on-site energy needs be met with renewable energy that emits zero greenhouse gas pollutants (“zero-emission energy”);
3. Update the existing New Source Performance Standards that apply to facilities that produce plastics precursors and resins to effectively eliminate the emissions of criteria pollutants and volatile organic compounds from new sources;
4. Update the Generic Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards for Ethylene Production to effectively eliminate emissions of hazardous air pollutants from new and existing facilities; and
5. Update the New Source Performance Standards and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants to protect impacted communities and reflect advances in detection and control technologies.