EPA brags about oil-refinery cleanups that haven’t happened

“Settlements under EPA’s Petroleum Refinery Initiative have reduced emissions of air pollutants by 200,000 tons per year at 48 refineries in 24 states,” said top U.S. EPA enforcement official Tom Skinner in October. Turns out that was a lie. Oh, wait, did we say “lie”? Actually, says Skinner, it was a “poor word choice.” The truth, uncovered in an investigation by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is that the initiative has resulted in reductions of only about a fifth that size. Of the deadlines set for refineries to reduce their emissions under the program, some two-thirds have been extended. Furthermore, even in cases where legal settlements require the EPA to notify states, environmental groups, or courts of deadline extensions, the agency has not done so. Skinner acknowledged that the EPA should have been more forthcoming. “I think we should be telling the public what we’re doing,” he said. The hundreds of thousands of people whose exposure to dangerous pollutants has been secretly prolonged no doubt agree.