Government Reaches Clean Air Agreement with Chevron U.S.A.

Petroleum refiner Chevron U.S.A. Inc. has reached an agreement with the U.S. government to reduce air emissions at refineries in four states. Chevron agreed to pay $7.5 million for penalties and equipment upgrades.

The Justice Department and EPA reached a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement with Chevron that is expected to reduce harmful air emissions by almost 10,000 tons per year from five U.S. petroleum refineries that represent more than 5 percent of the total refining capacity in the United States. The states of Hawaii, Mississippi and Utah, as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in California, are joining the settlement, which is part of EPA's national effort to reduce air emissions from refineries.

A consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco requires Chevron to spend an estimated $275 million to install and implement innovative control technologies to reduce emissions at its refineries. Chevron's actions under this agreement will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by approximately 3,300 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by approximately 6,300 tons.

"The emissions reductions required by this settlement will lead to cleaner air and significant environmental and public health benefits," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti. "We expect to continue our strong enforcement efforts and see to it that other refiners will follow suit by improving environmental controls to reduce harmful emissions."

To meet obligations under EPA's New Source Review program, Chevron will cut emissions significantly from its largest emitting units through the use of innovative technologies. In addition, under the negotiated settlement, Chevron will upgrade its leak detection and repair practices, implement programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from its sulfur recovery plants and adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of hazardous benzene wastes at each refinery. The affected Chevron refineries are located in Richmond and El Segundo, Calif.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Kapolei, Hawaii.

"The settlements benefit not only the environment, but the communities that were directly affected by the pollutants," said John Peter Suarez, EPA's assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "It goes a long way in leveling the playing field for all companies that are good neighbors in the places where they do business."

Chevron also will pay a $3.5 million civil penalty and spend more than $4 million on further emissions controls and other environmental projects in communities around the company's refineries. The states of Hawaii, Mississippi and Utah, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will share in the cash penalties and the benefits of the environmental projects to be performed by Chevron.

This agreement is the latest in a series of multi-issue, multi-facility settlements reached by EPA under its Petroleum Refinery Initiative. Two weeks ago, EPA and the Justice Department announced Clean Air Act settlements with Coastal Eagle Point Oil Co., Ergon-West Virginia Inc. and Ergon Refining Inc. and CHS that will reduce refinery emissions by 4,000 tons per year in five states. In the past three years, the United States has reached similar agreements with other major refiners, including Motiva Enterprises, Equilon and Deer Park Refining, Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Koch Petroleum Group, BP Exploration & Oil, Conoco and Navajo Refining.

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