ThinkProgress | EPA’s ‘secret science’ proposal being used by Big Oil to undermine clean water rules


Internal emails reveal two major fossil fuel trade groups are lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from updating a decades-old list of toxic chemicals found in petroleum wastewater — and they’re using the Trump administration’s controversial “secret science” proposal to make their case.

The EPA currently monitors for 16 types of chemicals in wastewater, or effluent, released by petroleum refineries under the Clean Water Act. However, in the more than 40 years since the list was developed, scientific understanding around the number of chemicals and their toxicity levels has grown. As a result, the EPA is in the early stages of determining whether the priority list of chemicals needs to be updated.

But according to emails released to the Sierra Club and reviewed by ThinkProgress, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) are lobbying to limit the scope of the EPA’s study.

The fossil fuel trade groups want to ensure that two categories of chemicals known to be toxic to aquatic life, and potentially harmful to humans, are excluded from the study: alkylated polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (alkylated-PAHs) and naphthenic acids (NAs). The industry even goes so far as to state that including these in a study would risk “legal challenges.”

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