EPA Allows ExxonMobil Ethane Cracker to Go Ahead
US oil and petrochemicals group ExxonMobil has received final approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build a 1.5 million t/y ethane cracker in Baytown, Texas. The group said earlier the cracker would start operation in 2016.
The EPA overruled claims by the environmental group Sierra Club that the agency's regional authority abused its discretion under the Clean Air Act when approving the facility.
Sierra had argued that the facility should feature carbon capture and sequestration as an add-on control technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EPA, however, agreed with ExxonMobil that this would be too costly.
Alongside ExxonMobil, a number of other US and international players are planning new ethane crackers on the US Gulf Coast to take advantage of cheap shale gas-derived feedstock. The list includes ChevronPhillips, Dow Chemical, Shell, Sasol, Formosa Plastics and Braskem.