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Kansas Oil Refinery Agrees to $23 Million in Penalties for Violating Federal Air Pollution Law

Illegal emissions included an estimated 2,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide.

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COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas refinery has agreed to pay more than $23 million for violating the federal Clean Air Act and breaching a 2012 settlement for earlier pollution problems, the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.

The federal agencies said the violations by Coffeyville Resources Refining and Marketing and its affiliated companies, collectively known as CRRM, resulted in illegal emissions from 2015 to 2017 that included an estimated 2,300 excess tons (2,000 metric tons) of sulfur dioxide from its oil refinery in Coffeyville in southeastern Kansas.

But CRRM's efforts to come into compliance with federal requirements since the investigation began have already eliminated more than 39,000 tons (35,000 metric tons) per year of carbon dioxide emissions that can contribute to climate change, the agencies said in a joint news release. That's equivalent to using nearly 4 million fewer gallons of gasoline per year, they said.

The EPA also estimated that a waste gas recovery system required by Monday's court-enforceable settlement, known as a consent decree, will further reduce yearly emissions of greenhouse gases by nearly 13,000 tons (12,000 metric tons), equivalent to using 1.3 million fewer gallons of gasoline annually. It will also reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, which can make breathing more difficult, and nitrogen oxide, which contributes to smog formation.

"The emissions reductions achieved under this settlement will result in healthier air for a community disproportionately affected by air pollution," Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim said in the statement.

CRRM did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The agreement also requires the company to spend at least $1 million on an environmentally beneficial project to be approved by the state.

The consent degree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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