New EPA rule targets more than 200 chemical plants including some in Louisiana

More than 200 chemical plants nationwide will be required to reduce toxic emissions that are likely to cause cancer under a new rule issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency. The rule advances President Joe Biden’s commitment to environmental justice by delivering critical health protections for communities burdened by industrial pollution from ethylene oxide, chloroprene and other dangerous chemicals, officials say.

Areas that will benefit from the new rule include majority-Black neighborhoods outside New Orleans that EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited as part of his 2021 Journey to Justice tour. The rule will significantly reduce emissions of chloroprene and other harmful pollutants at the Denka Performance Elastomer facility in LaPlace, the largest source of chloroprene emissions in the country, Regan says.

“Every community in this country deserves to breathe clean air. That’s why I took the Journey to Justice tour to communities like St. John the Baptist Parish, where residents have borne the brunt of toxic air for far too long,” Regan says.

When combined with a rule issued last month cracking down on ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizers used to clean medical equipment, the new rule will reduce ethylene oxide and chloroprene emissions by nearly 80%, officials say.

The rule will apply to 218 facilities spread across Texas and Louisiana, the Ohio River Valley, West Virginia and the upper South, the EPA says. The action updates several regulations on chemical plant emissions that have not been tightened in nearly two decades.

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