During the time when the Hurricane Harvey hit the coastal part of Texas last year, a lot of industrial companies had to close their operations before the storm reached and resurfaces itself once the rainfall and flooding subsided.
New and shutdown industries, as well as the damages caused by the storm, led to the release of air pollution around the city. Within that period of time, lots of information where gotten from Texas’ Air Emission Event Report Database indicated that about two thousand tons of greenhouse gases were released in these areas.
However, the emission that came from the new and shutdown industry which are often referred to as “excess” or “upset” emissions are predominant anytime there are natural disasters, and such is the case with the Hurricane Harvey.
Moreover, in a new study that was published recently in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, the release of greenhouse gases often occur when these industries perform their activities with their facilities. Even though some of the releases of the gases are often unintended or inevitable, the gases released during these activities are in the violation of the U.S Clean Air Act (CAA).
When the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revisited the rules pertaining these air pollutants, a new study shows that these gases are dangerous to public health and how they have not been thoroughly traced across the country or regulated comprehensively is still surprising.
The Increased Emissions in Texas
Texas as a city has been a victim of the increased air pollution which as posed lots of environmental threats to its citizens. Our research study inspects the excess emissions from the industrial facilities in Texas from 2012 to 2016. The reason why Texas is a case study and why we are focused on it is due to the fact that the city has brought lots of comprehensive reports. However, it is important to know that the state has lots of information concerning the release of greenhouses gases such as benzene that has caused detrimental effects on people.
Furthermore, the states are propelled to set limits when it comes to the emissions from industrial facilities based on their State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is a plan to meet the CAA requirements. Also, the EPA itself, readily ensures that every state’s SIP is drafted in accordance with the CIA.
The CAA requires that the facilities from industries need to be checked and maintained in order to limit the emissions of these dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Notwithstanding, excess emissions occur as a result of the decline of some facilities such as scrubbers, baghouses, or flares that help to decrease emissions.
Though we may think that happenings like these are rare, we have found that excess emissions in Texas are occurring very frequently, thus, affecting individuals in areas where the emissions unconstrained.
From the study, it has been discovered that 77,000 tons of excess emissions were released from natural gas liquid industries in 2004 to 2015, thus, signifying about 58% of the industry’s routine emissions for pollutants. Also, refineries released 23,000 tons of excess emissions, while oil and gas fields released 11,000 tons.
Outside of Texas
The reports we have stated in our study exposes the magnitude of the emissions of greenhouses. Although, it is important to also know that the study only captures the situation in Texas. However, when it comes to places beyond Texas, we know very little about the excess emissions at the national level and this is due to the fact that Texas is one of the few states that thoroughly track the progress of the emission of greenhouses.
The Increased Release of Greenhouse Gases are Under-regulated
It is important to note that the EPA made adequate efforts to curtail the problem of emissions during the last days of Obama administration.
Propelled by a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, the EPA issued a State Implementation Plan (SIP) call in 2015, requesting every state to limit the way greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. The agency discovered that some SIP provisions in 36 states were considered insufficient to meet the Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements. This implies that various industrial facilities may have been regularly surpassing the limit of their permitted pollution limits, because of these emissions.
However, the EPA is now taking a look back to its policy as part of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to revert many decisions made in past administration. Due to the magnitude and the adverse effects of the emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA’s ultimate decision on how states should treat excess emissions is important.
With all of these in mind, there are more things to learn when it comes to the way greenhouses gases are emitted all over the world. However, if an effective regulatory structure is designated to decrease them, then it is vital that every state should begin to track the excess occurrence of the emission of greenhouse gases, by taking Texas as an example.