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EPA to review VOC emissions reporting requirements by December 2014

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with community groups based in Texas and Louisiana, which had launched a lawsuit against the federal agency for its delay in changes to rules on reporting emissions from chemical facilities and refineries.

Community groups in both states, united in a coalition under the name the Environmental Integrity Project, took the EPA to court in May 2013 in an attempt to make it review what they claimed were "outdated and inaccurate" factors used to report the levels of toxic chemicals released.

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The EPA is required to review and, if necessary, update emission factors used for calculating the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from tanks, industrial flares and various wastewater treatment systems in chemical plants and refineries at least once every three years. Yet the agency has not reviewed some of these measuring formulas for over 20 years, the Environmental Integrity Project stated.

Under the terms of the settlement the EPA will have to carry out a full review of emission factors from flares, tanks and wastewater treatment systems and by Aug. 19, 2014, it will have to propose changes to these or determine that no revisions are necessary. Should the agency propose reforms to the reporting factors, they should be finalized by Dec. 19 at the latest. The agency is required to publish the final proposals on its website on the above-mentioned dates.

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