You think you have problems keeping ahead of all the new regulations that the state or the Environmental Protection Agency brings out, from the newest fertilizer rules enforced by the Office of the State Chemist to those enforced by EPA. So how would you like to own and operate an oil refinery in Indiana today and answer to EPA? Charlie Smith, president and CEO of CountryMark, is charged with that responsibility.
Recently, CountryMark signed an agreement with EPA and the U.S. Justice Department. Per the agreement the Indiana-based co-op will voluntarily invest $18 million or more to reduce air-borne emissions from the refinery at Mt. Vernon.
CountryMark is only one of many refineries nationwide reaching agreements with EPA . Since March of 2000, settlements have been reached with 107 refineries in 32 states, representing over 90% of domestic refining capacity.
Under the plan, CountryMark will update process heaters, boilers and a fluid catalytic cracking unit that were operating on grandfathered permits. The company will also adopt new strategies to make sure it continues compliance with benzene management requirements under the Clean Air Act.
Flaring is a practice that disposes of combustible gases. Under the new agreement CountryMark will also implement programs to minimize flaring and make it more efficient when necessary to do so.
Belinda Puetz, communications specialist with CountryMark, says that when these improvements are made it will not affect production coming from the refinery from either a quality or quantity perspective. The upgrades will be made during regularly scheduled times for refinery maintenance, she notes.
Whether EPA will demand more changes in the future is anybody's guess. Puetz notes that their original objective was to get all refineries in compliance with the Clean Air Act. The changes CountryMark will be making now are part of that process. Other initiatives could come along from EPA in the future, she says. CountryMark is dedicated to being prepared to deal with any future directives.