Green groups sue EPA over refinery emissions rules

Yet again, environmental groups are suing the U.S. EPA for issuing rules the enviros say will increase pollution. In the old days, refineries and other industrial plants were required to submit a malfunction contingency plan to the EPA; under a rule that went into effect in April, the agency has discretion in asking for such plans, and refineries are no longer legally liable for not abiding by them. (The new rule also cuts out public scrutiny of refinery contingency plans.) The lawsuit was filed partially in response to an incident last year in Wilmington, Calif., wherein noxious smoke from three refineries sickened nearby residents after an area power outage; the refineries had no adequate backup plans in case of power failure. The groups also say the new rule allows plants to emit more when starting up or shutting down, to which an EPA spokesflack responded that higher emissions during startup and shutdown were inevitable. Well then.