Koch Clean Air Initiative Lauded by EPA

Koch will invest up to $80 million in new technologies and practices at its refining facilities that will set the pace in reducing emissions, said EPA.

EPA made an agreement in principle with Koch Petroleum Group which outlines how the company will set the pace for U.S. refineries in reducing emissions.

The agreement outlines $60 to $80 million of investments Koch will make in new technologies and practices at its refining facilities.

The agreement addresses a number of old issues with a $1 million settlement -- which is added to a $3.5 million settlement that had been announced in September 1999 concerning coker pond and sewer operations at the company''s Minnesota facility.

EPA characterized the agreement as a "major step in fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act."

Koch was the first refining company to reach an agreement with the agency.

In a letter to Charles Koch, the company''s chairman and CEO, the director of the EPA''s Office of Regulatory Enforcement, Eric Schaeffer, praised Koch''s "good faith and hard work," and "outstanding" cooperation in working with the agency on the agreement.

With this agreement, Koch will help set best industry practices and advance emission-control technology with greater operational flexibility.

Schaeffer called the innovative plans in the agreement "model programs" that, in key areas, "advance the state of the art in pollution-prevention technology."

This agreement comes on the heels of a series of clean air initiatives from Koch, including voluntary emissions-reductions programs and voluntary production of cleaner-burning fuels at its Pine Bend, Minn., and Corpus Christi, Texas, refining complexes.

The Koch-EPA agreement was announced concurrently with a somewhat similar agreement between EPA and BPAmoco.

The agreements are part of the agency''s move to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act and ever-cleaner refining operations in the United States.

"This agreement breaks new ground for EPA and the refining industry at large in two important ways," said Schaeffer. "First, it demonstrates that we can reconcile two critical goals by preserving both a competitive environment for American industry and a clean environment for the American public. Second, it proves that in addressing these complex issues we can still work together without incurring the costs and delays of burdensome litigation."

Koch said the agreement represents a strong, proactive environmental initiative by the company.

"The EPA''s effort to work with companies in an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation to pave the way for pollution-control advances are to be commended," said Don Clay, Koch Petroleum Group''s vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs. "We all agree that a clean environment is good for America and good for business. This agreement clearly shows that when it comes to complex environmental issues and evolving regulatory requirements, cooperative processes are the most effective path to shared stewardship goals."

Koch Petroleum has approximately 850 employees at its complex in South Texas, 750 at its Minnesota refinery, and 750 others at offices and facilities elsewhere around the globe.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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