The EPA has closed a refinery after it rained oil. Now it’s a “ticking time bomb”.
U.S. Virgin Islands oil refinery That Environmental Protection Agency closed last spring It now poses the risk of a “catastrophic” release of fires, explosions or other “extremely dangerous substances,” officials said in a report released this week, Maxine reported this morning. .
Previously Limetree Bay refinery, experienced A series of accidents last year spewed toxic fumes, sprayed droplets of oil onto nearby homes, and sent some residents to emergency rooms.
The now deteriorating conditions at the massive facility sold in December’s bankruptcy auction pose a major test for the Biden administration. Commitment to Environmental Justice.
The EPA conducted an inspection of the refinery in September and found “significant corrosion” on equipment such as valves, pipes and pressure relief devices, the agency said in an Oct. 13 letter to the owner’s attorney. said it made it public this week.
“These conditions present a risk of imminent release of highly hazardous substances,” the EPA said in its inspection report. “This degree of corrosion can cause vessels, piping, and/or valves to fail, leading to catastrophic releases.”
Locals question why federal officials are not doing more to protect the health of the mostly black and brown residents of this Caribbean island.
“This report is equally alarming and affirmative to those of us in the civil sector who have been honking loudspeakers for years about the dangers this refinery poses.” Deana James,president St Croix Foundationsaid in an email. “Since 2019, the St. Croix Foundation and our non-profit partners have been on a lonely advocacy journey to force policy makers to consider alternatives to this ‘time bomb’ on our shores. but it didn’t help. ”
Elijah RodriguezHe is the spokesperson for EPA Region 2, which covers eight tribes in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Native Americans.
“The EPA takes our obligations to ensure facilities comply with federal environmental regulations designed to protect people very seriously,” Rodriguez said in an email. We will use that authority to protect the health and safety of our facility workers and those living in nearby communities.”
A bankruptcy judge approved the plant for $62 million in December after the facility’s previous owner filed for bankruptcy in July 2021. west indies oil When Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation.
I received a phone call on Thursday, Fermin RodriguezPort Hamilton Refining’s vice president and refinery manager said the company “is working with the EPA and has provided all the information that the EPA has requested. Verify what is shown.”
“Cancel his weekend plans.”
Judith Encktapped person President Barack Obama To lead EPA Region 2, officials warned of waiting almost three weeks after an inspection before sending a letter to the factory’s attorneys.
“This is not a situation for politely exchanging letters between lawyers,” he said. beyond plastic advocacy group. “This is a serious situation requiring the EPA’s highest level of attention.”
Enck called EPA administrators Michael Regan “Cancelling his weekend plans” and immediately boarding a flight to St. Croix, she said, authorities need to inform residents of the imminent threat to their health.
A recent study found that about 20,000 people live downwind of refineries, but prior to 2019, the EPA found that 75% of residents in the immediate area were people of color, and 27% were people of color. I discovered that I was living below the poverty line.
EPA spokesman Rodriguez said it took the EPA three weeks to send the letter because “time was needed, especially because of the complexity of the issues involved with a facility of this size.”
However Jennifer Baliulis,executive director St. Croix Environmental Associationquestioned whether the federal government would act more urgently if the situation were to unfold in the neighboring United States.
“The surrounding communities are not only predominantly black and brown, but they also have different statuses as territories in that they do not vote for the president,” Valiulis said. “There are no members in Congress to vote.
House Republicans Explore Potential Release, Export Ban on Biden’s Oil Stockpile
Republican Party House Oversight and Reform Committee They are investigating what they see as “potential exploits” of the Biden administration. strategic oil reserves,and White Housepotential plans to ban oil and gas exports, Ali Nutter Bloomberg News report.
in a letter on wednesday energy departmentLawmakers have requested a tranche of documents and information related to both moves, saying the administration “continues to pursue policies that curb domestic energy production and raise fuel prices for consumers.” .
President Biden Last week, it announced it would release an additional 15 million barrels of fuel from its Strategic Oil Reserve, a move aimed at lowering gasoline prices ahead of the midterm elections.the leader of the letter Congressman James Comer (R-Ky.), top Republican on the Surveillance Panel, and Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.), ranking member House Oversight Subcommittee on Citizenship and Civil Liberties.
In response to the inquiry, the Department of Energy said in a statement that the administration is using emergency supplies designed during times of instability within energy markets.
Just two weeks before the midterm elections, the letter serves as a preview of what could become a stronger probe on climate issues for the Biden administration if Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress. increase.
California regulators considering banning diesel-powered trucks and buses by 2040
California regulators met on Thursday to consider sweeping proposals to ban the sale of diesel-burning trucks and buses by 2040. Anna Phillips The Climate 202 report.
The proposed rule would require all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2040. Cities, counties, and private vehicle owners will gradually work toward this goal and increase the percentage of new vehicles. After 2024, buy either electric or hydrogen fuel cells.
If the rule is adopted — California Air Resources Board We will vote next spring — other states may follow. More than a dozen states typically adhere to California’s stricter emission rules, with officials in New York, Connecticut, Washington and Wisconsin supporting the proposal.
At Thursday’s hearing, fleet owners and industry groups representing major truck manufacturers said the proposed rule was unworkable and costly, and urged the state to lower its ambitions.
The proposal “does not address many situations where zero-emission truck performance is inadequate,” he said. mike tunnelEnvironmental Director american truck association.
Meanwhile, climate change advocates and Californians in communities bearing the brunt of diesel emissions have called for a ban on diesel trucks and buses to be implemented by 2036 and smaller fleets included in the regulation. urged states to act more quickly.
The energy crisis is likely to accelerate, not slow, the green transition, says IEA
The energy crisis, spurred by Russia’s war in Ukraine, is likely to accelerate, rather than slow, the global transition from fossil fuels to green technology. International Energy Agency said on thursday Brad Plummer The New York Times reports.
Government World Energy Outlook, The report, which projects energy trends to 2050, found that while some countries are burning more fossil fuels such as coal to compensate for gas shortages, the impact is expected to be short-lived. .
In fact, for the first time, officials have predicted that global demand for oil, gas and coal will peak in the near future. Meanwhile, global investment in clean energy will jump from $1.3 trillion in 2022 to more than $2 trillion annually by 2030, the agency said.
Yet scientists say the transition to clean energy is not moving fast enough to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.The report arrives on the same day as another report united nations Reports have found that countries are delaying action on climate change for so long that the planet is nearly 1 degree above the safe temperature threshold.
UK’s new PM won’t attend COP27
rishi snacks, UK’s new PM won’t attend meeting next month united nations Despite hopes among environmentalists that he would restore Britain’s confidence in climate change, the climate conference in Egypt Kate Whannell BBC News report.
A spokeswoman for 10 Downing Street said in a statement that Sunak COP27 The climate talks are “for other pressing domestic commitments” and will instead be represented by other ministers, including the UK. Alok Sharmaserved as president of COP26 He held climate negotiations in Scotland last year and is losing his role in the Sunak Cabinet.
Before stepping down as prime minister last week, Liz Truss was expected to lead the opposition to the conference Labor Party It calls Sunak’s absence a “climate change leadership debacle.”
However, a spokeswoman for 10 Downing Street said the UK remains “committed to going net zero and leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change”.