The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s governing board Friday voted to approve new rules that aim to reduce air pollution from refineries and related facilities by almost eight tons per day.

NOx is a precursor to ozone and the reductions attained by the rules will make up 40% of the overall reductions needed by stationary sources to meet federal standards by 2031.

“Once implemented, (the rules) will have immediate benefits to our air quality, especially for those living near these facilities who are directly impacted,” said Ben J. Benoit, chair of the South Coast AQMD governing board. “We estimate the public health benefits achieved through (the rules) will help avoid 370 premature deaths and more than 6,200 asthma attacks.”

As part of the rules, facilities are required to apply for a permit that limits NOx and carbon monoxide emissions from combustion equipment used as part of refinery operations. The rules are projected to reduce between 7.7 to 7.9 tpd of NOx over the next 14 years, with nearly half of those reductions expected by 2023.

Approximately 75% of the emission reductions are anticipated to be achieved by 2027 with 90% being achieved by 2031. The rules will also have a positive economic impact, resulting in 213 jobs added to the workforce every year, according to the AQMD.

In addition to petroleum refineries, Rule 1109.1 establishes NOx limits for asphalt plants, biofuel plants, hydrogen production plants and sulfuric acid plants. The rule will impact 16 facilities and nearly 300 pieces of combustion equipment such as boilers, gas turbines and vapor incinerators in the agency’s jurisdiction.

Three companion rules were also adopted to support Rule 1109.1 by providing exemptions for emission increases during startup, shutdown, commissioning, maintenance events and for installation of add-on air pollution control equipment needed to meet the required NOx concentration limits, the AQMD announced.

South Coast AQMD is the regulatory agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley.

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