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Bay Area Lawmakers May Force Refinery Emission Cuts

San FranciscoSan Francisco Bay Area lawmakers are moving forward with rules that would cut emissions at refineries as much as 20 percent, in a move that the industry worries may cut operational flexibility, according to SFGate.

One rule proposed by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board last week would cap Bay Area refinery emissions based on their current levels and force refineries to disclose the grades of crude oil they use.

In addition, the board directed its staff to come up with strategies to cut Bay Area refinery emissions by 20 percent, or as much as feasible. The staff’s recommendations must be presented to the board no later than December, and would require a vote of the 22-member board to be adopted.

Guy Bjerke, Bay Area manager of the Western States Petroleum Association, said refinery managers are willing to look for ways to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, but balk at the idea of an emissions cap for each facility if it restricts operations.

Bjerke added that setting that kind of cap would undercut the operating permits that the district has already given Bay Area refineries.

California oil refineries already face state regulations designed to lower the greenhouse gas emissions behind global warming. Under California’s cap-and-trade system, refineries and other large industrial facilities must buy credits to emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

Next year, oil companies will have to buy cap-and-trade credits, called allowances, to cover the greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning the fuel they sell in the state.

According to numbers released by the California Air Resources Board in January of last year, California’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped for the third straight year with power plants, cement facilities, oil refineries, general combustion sources and other facilities emitting 111 million tons of CO2e in 2011.

Photo Credit: San Francisco via Shutterstock

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