Rule 1109.1 Victory! Refinery Boilers & Heaters

(Full Post) Nov. 5th, 2021, in the South Coast Air District, CBE and our allies won adoption of the biggest refinery regulation SCAQMD has adopted in decades – Rule 1109.1 — to cut emissions from massive refinery Boilers & Heaters, which drive refinery energy and put out invisible pollution constantly.

Alicia Rivera (CBE’s Wilmington Community Organizer) said: “This rule is long overdue — it’s finally going to do what the failed RECLAIM pollution trading program did not do for over 20 years – reduce Nitrogen Oxides at oil refineries by millions of pounds per year. These emissions affect people’s breathing, exacerbate asthma, and create all this smog. The rule will provide some justice for communities such as Wilmington most exposed due to being so close to the refineries.” (For general background, see our earlier CBE factsheet explaining Refinery Boilers & Heaters.)

Just like the failed state Cap & Trade program for Greenhouse Gases, the regional NOx RECLAIM pollution trading program allowed refineries to buy cheap credits in pay-to-pollute system, so cheap they did not invest in controls.  (See our fact sheet on the failure of state Cap & Trade to cut emissions.

Now refineries will be mandated to install pollution controls available for decades.  Although this is an important step forward, the refineries were able to win weakening provisions allowing “alternative” compliance plans.  It will be key to follow up during rule implementation, to ensure they don’t game the system.

And for a blast from the past – CBE called out the failed RECLAIM program in a paper we published in 1999! — Pollution Trading and Environmental Injustice: Los Angeles’ Failed Experiment in Air Quality PolicyDrury, Belliveau, Kuhn, and Bansal, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum.  

Also see the LA Times Editorial, Nov. 4, 2021 on this regulation, and the Rule 1109.1 Earthjustice blog – Reclaiming Our Health.