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  • Press Release

Beyond Petrochemicals Misleads Public with Flawed EO Study

Louisiana Air Study Lacks Appropriate Analysis, Used as Scare Tactics by Campaign

Charlotte Anthony

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2024) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement regarding the Beyond Petrochemicals-funded study published in Environmental Science & Technology.

ACC recognizes the contributions of air monitoring programs to the overall knowledge of environmental quality at local and national levels. Monitoring programs should generate scientifically robust data and prioritize critical considerations like precise locations based on clear decision criteria, high-quality and reliable technology, methodologies and analyses that advance principles of best available science, accurate emissions information, and appropriately reviewed data, among other elements. Unfortunately, Beyond Petrochemicals, the funder of this study, uses it as a scare tactic, misrepresenting industrial emissions and the risks associated with ethylene oxide concentrations.

Fundamental Problems: Comparing Apples to Oranges

Facilities in the southeastern Louisiana region emit ethylene oxide as part of important economic production for the area and across the nation. However, the study’s analysis and presentation of the data fundamentally misrepresents information about ethylene oxide emissions in the area.

For example, the Johns Hopkins study is based on measurements of ethylene oxide in southeastern Louisiana. The study then inappropriately compares its collected sampling data with the separate analysis from EPA’s AirToxScreen database, effectively ‘comparing apples to oranges.’ While AirToxScreen predominately models industry emissions, and explicitly ignores other sources of ethylene oxide, the study measures ambient concentrations, which would include ethylene oxide regardless of source. It then uses the modeled concentration data to support one of its ambiguous, sweeping conclusions that EPA’s AirToxScreen data “substantially underestimates” emissions and risk from sources in the area.

The study’s failure to address important elements like background levels presents a misleading picture of source contribution and directly undermines the study’s overall utility. Further, the overall monitoring data from the study is generally lower than data taken elsewhere including non-industrial sites and residential sites.

Louisiana Jobs at Risk

Louisiana is one of the nation’s largest chemical producing states, creating more than 70,000 jobs (direct and related jobs). These are high paying jobs, paying 55% higher wages than that of the average manufacturing job. The study’s sweeping claims based on its questionable analysis will only serve to spread confusion and negatively impact communities, the economy, and jobs while continuing to prevent informed public policy.

Doing Our Part

ACC and our members are committed to helping protect our employees and communities while continuing to provide the innovative products and materials made possible by chemistry. For more than 20 years, through ACC’s Responsible Care® program, companies have tracked and reported performance against specific environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) metrics, and made this information publicly available. In fact, from 2010 to 2021, Responsible Care facilities reduced Hazardous Air Pollutant emissions by approximately 26 percent.

Bloomberg Funded Scare Tactics

Beyond Petrochemicals was founded to dismantle the petrochemical industry in Louisiana and elsewhere, killing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. Flawed studies like these are the base for their campaign, using misinformation to scare the general public and influence officials to deny necessary permits for chemical facility operations. Permit decisions should be based on the best available science and input from stakeholders, not blatant scare tactics.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.