Just Zero Applauds EPA Proposed Rules Reducing Toxic Petrochemical Emissions

Aerial view of oil and gas refining petrochemical factory.

Kevin Budris, Just Zero – kbudris@just-zero.org, (401) 249-6920

April 7, 2023 – Yesterday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced new proposed rules that will help reduce toxic emissions from petrochemical plants, including plastics production facilities. The new rules are a response to lawsuits brought against the Agency by environmental groups, including Earthjustice, Concerned Citizens of St. John, California Communities Against Toxics, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Sierra Club, and others. Among other requirements, the rules will impose monitoring and emissions standards for toxics like ethylene oxide, chloroprene, vinyl chloride, and benzene.

“Plastics poison communities and damage our environment long before we see plastic bags and plastic bottles littering our curbs and waterways,” said Kevin Budris, Just Zero’s Advocacy Director. “EPA’s new proposed rules are an important step toward protecting communities that have been harmed by toxic plastics production for far too long.”

Many of the plastic plants subject to the new proposed rules are located in Black, Latinx, and low-income communities in Texas and Louisiana. These plants use toxic, carcinogenic chemicals covered by the new rules to produce plastic resins. These dangerous pollutants are emitted into the air throughout the plastic production process.

“Zero Waste is about more than just diverting waste from dangerous landfills and trash incinerators,” said Budris. “It is about eliminating the toxic and climate-damaging cycle of producing and disposing single-use waste, especially plastic. New emissions restrictions on the toxic, inequitably sited facilities that make many of our plastics are a key part of the transition to Zero Waste.”

The Agency’s proposed rules will soon be available for public comment for 60 days. Petrochemical companies and interest groups – including the American Chemistry Council, which has already expressed concern about the new rules – will undoubtedly push the Agency to weaken or water down the proposed restrictions. Just Zero, and many other environmental groups pushing for healthier environments for all, will be monitoring the situation and weighing in during the comment period.


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