WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. oil refineries will face tighter standards in coming years on toxic emissions that cause lung problems and increase cancer risks, environmental regulators said on Tuesday.
The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule, to be fully implemented in 2018, that aims to reduce emissions of benzene and other toxic emissions.
The EPA said the capital cost to refiners will be about $283 million, with an annualized cost of $63 million, but that the standards will have a "negligible impact on the costs of petroleum products," like gasoline and diesel fuel.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, said the pollution cuts will lower the cancer risk from refineries for more than 1.4 million people and are a "substantial step forward in EPA's work to protect the health of vulnerable communities located near these facilities."
The standard will require continuous monitoring of concentrations of benzene and other pollutants at the fence line of refineries. The EPA said it would strengthen emissions controls at flares, storage tanks and delayed coker operations that will cut thousands of tons of hazardous air pollutants.
The American Petroleum Institute industry group said the EPA had made "substantial improvements" in the rule, but estimated that the regulation could still cost up to $1 billion.
"Despite these improvements, regulators need to be thoughtful about the additional impacts of new regulations and added costs to delivering affordable energy to U.S. consumers," said Bob Greco, an API refinery issues official.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)