Durbin, Duckworth, Kelly Introduce Bicameral Bill To Study Effects Of Petroleum Coke

Legislation would pave the way for federal safety standards for storage and transportation of pet coke

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), along with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), today introduced bicameral legislation that would address the concerns of petroleum coke and pave the way for federal environmental safety regulations on the fuel. The Petroleum Coke Transparency and Public Health Act of 2019 would require the federal government to study the potential health risks posed by petroleum coke exposure as well as the environmental impacts.

Based on the results of the study, the bill would mandate the implementation of federal safety standards for the storage and transportation of petroleum coke. Uncovered piles of petroleum coke have been stored in Southeast Chicago near homes and local baseball fields. Durbin and Peters previously introduced this legislation in 2015.

“If you live on Chicago’s southeast side, you know what pet coke is,” said Durbin. “For years, I’ve been concerned about the possible negative health effects this dangerous pollutant could be having on the community. That is why I’m reintroducing a bill with my colleagues that would for the first time require a federal study into the health and environmental impacts of pet coke.  If the Trump Administration wants to put the special interests of polluters ahead of the American people, than Congress has a responsibility to act.”

“Families on the Southeast Side of Chicago and across the country are being exposed to petcoke and it’s putting them at risk,” said Duckworth. “This legislation will help us understand how serious of a public health crisis this is and it will require the federal government to take action.”

“Families in my district know what pet coke is and how dangerous it is to their health and communities. It’s time for a federal study on the health and environmental impacts of pet coke,” said Kelly. “The time for action is now before more harm is done because our public health officials lack accurate data on the impact on pet coke on our families’ health and safety.”

Petroleum coke is a byproduct of refining crude oil into fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Expanded production from Canadian tar sands has dramatically increased the amount of pet coke entering the United States.

There has been limited review of petroleum coke’s potential health and environmental effects, and each state has different regulations for its storage and transportation. The bill seeks to fill in those gaps by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the public health and environmental impacts of petroleum coke production and use; an assessment of best practices for storing, transporting and managing the material; and an analysis of current and projected domestic production and use.