Suit Seeks Tougher Rules For Nitric Acid Plants | February 16, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 7 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 7 | p. 34 | Concentrates
Issue Date: February 16, 2009

Suit Seeks Tougher Rules For Nitric Acid Plants

Department: Government & Policy

Environmental groups are asking a court to force EPA to update the emission standards for nitric acid plants. Activists say their lawsuit, filed in early February, could prompt the agency to regulate nitrous oxide, a by-product of nitric acid production that is a potent greenhouse gas. Nitric acid plants, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Sierra Club say, are the largest industrial source of N2O in the U.S., and those emissions can easily be controlled. “The technology for controlling N2O is cost-effective,” says Eric V. Schaeffer, director of EIP. The activists also point out that nitric acid manufacturing generates nitrogen oxides, pollutants that form ground-level ozone. The lawsuit asks EPA to review the rule limiting emissions from nitric acid production, which was established in 1971 and reviewed in 1984 but not examined since. The Clean Air Act, however, requires EPA to update each industry-specific emission standard every eight years, and the environmental groups argue that the rules for regulating nitric acid production emissions are out-of-date.

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