LABB Support for DEQ Information Workgroup

03 07, 2013 by LMOGA

Everyone can agree that serious efforts to reduce refinery emissions are a good thing, so it is certainly nice to see broad support for the latest program underway in Louisiana.

As the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced recently, the agency has been working with 40 representatives from state’s petroleum refining and chemical manufacturing industries to reduce emissions through an Information Exchange Workgroup. This effort is designed to identify the most common causes of upset emissions and malfunctions, provide expertise from industry leaders on efficiency measures, and share best-management practices and other strategies for minimizing emissions.

DEQ’s Information Exchange Workgroup has been up and running for some time and is in fact a much larger and robust initiative than the one EPA Region 6 recently proposed. The fact that so many industry representatives are working together, and alongside DEQ, to make further environmental advancements on upset emissions is enormously encouraging. Just as encouraging is the praise the initiative has garnered from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB).

Although LABB generally criticizes any and all safety and efficiency efforts that include representatives from either the petrochemical industry or DEQ, the group nonetheless acknowledged the benefits of this ongoing initiative, and even called it a “Big victory!” on their Facebook page.

The Bucket Brigade is right; efforts like the Information Exchange Workgroup are responsible for the biggest improvements in safety and air quality that Louisiana has seen in decades. For example:

  • Baton Rouge, which was formerly designated as a severe ozone nonattainment area, is now in attainment with both the 1-hour and 1997 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  • Sulfur dioxide concentrations in West Baton Rouge Parish are now compliant with the 1-hour sulfur dioxide NAAQS.
  • Emissions associated with unauthorized discharges, as reported to DEQ’s Emissions Reporting and Inventory Center, have decreased by 41 percent since 2008.

Although the LABB may continue to deny existence of these and other real, measurable air-quality and safety achievements, we’re hopeful that their support for DEQ’s Information Exchange Workgroup suggests that they’re turning over a new leaf.