Houston Challenges Oil Industry to Lower Emissions

Imagine, if you can, a herd of about 90 elephants tipping out ascale at 355 tons.That's how much benzene is emitted into Houston's air every year.

Six months ago, the Greater Houston Partnership released a reportwith recommendations on how the industry could reduce benzene emissions.

Houston Mayor Bill White says the industry did nothing to respondand has made little progress.

"And next year if the industry still does not have, or the major polluters still do not have publicly disclosed plans to reduce benzene where we can monitor their progress, we will be asking for trials."

And the city just released a 22-point action plan calling for a response from the TCEQ, EPA and the industry.

"We are proud to be home of the energy business. We believe these requests of industry are modest and reasonable. Let's take action item #1: We say the largest benzene emitters should set annual goals concerning their benzene reduction for each of the next five years and should make those goals public."

The companies that emit the most benzene are ExxonMobil, Lyondell and Shell Oil. They operate 10 of the 18 facilities that are cited in the report.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
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