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We are here today to announce a major Clean Air Act settlement in U.S. v. Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP. Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP has signed a consent decree involving three chemical plants, all located in Texas, to settle claims brought by the United States under the Clean Air Act for illegal emissions of pollution relating to “flaring,” a process by which certain industrial plants burn off waste gases.
This settlement contains technologically advanced injunctive relief measures, such as sophisticated instrumentation and controls and fenceline monitoring. The cutting-edge measures reflect the Justice Department’s continuing commitment to enforcing the law, reducing the impacts of harmful pollutants on overburdened communities, and fighting climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
The annual emissions reductions resulting from the new control equipment, emission limits, and work practices will be substantial. The settlement will result in the elimination of thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants each year, and tens of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases. My colleague from the EPA, Rosemarie Kelley, will detail the impact in a moment.
We want to stress that the settlement will promote environmental justice. The communities near Chevron Phillips’ Cedar Bayou and Port Arthur facilities are disproportionately exposed to harmful pollutants and are at higher risk for cancer. This settlement permanently reduces the level of pollutants from the covered plants to which these communities will be exposed.
Disproportionate environmental and public health impacts on historically overburdened communities such as these form a barrier to economic opportunity and security. We are committed to alleviating such environmental burdens through advanced science and in the interests of justice.
In addition to directly reducing emissions, the settlement gives these communities a new tool to help them be aware of the level of pollution coming from each plant. Chevron Phillips will surround each facility with a system of monitors that will measure the level of benzene in the ambient air. This benzene data will be reported to the communities via a publicly available website, empowering them with knowledge that they can use in future discussions with Chevron Phillips and with regulators.
Moreover, if this fenceline data shows high benzene levels, the company must determine its cause and take action to reduce the fenceline levels of benzene. Such reductions in benzene will also result in reductions of other air toxics, and volatile organic compounds. Similar fenceline monitoring systems have yielded opportunities for reductions in toxic air pollution and improved public information in other communities.
This settlement also demonstrates the Administration’s sharp focus on reducing the carbon footprint of companies that are the subject of our enforcement authority. The improved combustion efficiency requirements, flare gas recovery system, requirements to reduce flaring, and limits on flaring included in the settlement reduce the carbon footprint of all three facilities.
We think it is important to call attention to ongoing efforts to address flaring and the climate and environmental justice concerns from flaring improperly. And the cumulative benefits from the efforts of the Justice Department and EPA are significant and noteworthy. This is the seventh case since 2013 in which the United States has achieved a judicial settlement regarding flaring at ethylene plants, and those cases combined have resulted in over one million tons per year in greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. A million tons of GHG reduction is equal to taking an average sized power plant permanently out of commission and replacing it with a carbon-free energy source.
With that, let me turn it over for some remarks by Rosemarie Kelley, Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.