Oil refiners have their britches in a twist over new regulations designed to curb their toxic air emissions. Crocodile tears. The oil industry has reaped record profits in recent years, while for decades refineries have foisted polluting toxic substances on the neighborhoods where some of America’s poorest citizens live.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling for refiners to install air monitors along their boundaries to measure for benzene and other dangerous pollutants that might leave the property, and to take corrective action if necessary. The goal is to reduce pollution for more than 6 million Americans who live within three miles of a refinery. Refiners are crying foul, saying the new requirements won’t substantially improve health but will cost money and jobs.
But it’s hard to justify failing to make the effort toward cleaner air in these neighborhoods. Benzene, tuolene and xylene are known carcinogens. Emissions from refineries cause respiratory ailments, raise cancer risk and add to the smog that contributes to global climate change.
Benefiting from the rules changes will be the mostly African American and Latino communities near the refineries. Such minorities are twice as likely than the general population to live close to refineries, the EPA said.
The nation has 140 petroleum refineries, mostly in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; a few are around major cities, including four in Philadelphia.
The EPA’s announcement coincidentally took place shortly after Pope Francis’ visit, which included a stop in Philadelphia. Francis has led the charge recently in decrying poor environmental practices that harm people, encouraging individuals and businesses to use the environment responsibly and for the good of their fellow man and the Creator.
The world still depends heavily on fossil fuels. Domestic refineries can and should run cleaner operations. They certainly can afford it: This summer, refineries reported significant profit increases thanks to low oil prices but strong demand for gas.
With today’s technology, and more than comfortable profit margins, refineries should not wring profits on the backs of the poor families and children.
This article was from Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.