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First Amendment to 2012 U.S. v. Marathon Petroleum Co. Clean Air Act Consent Decree

In April 2012, EPA and the Department of Justice announced an agreement with Marathon Petroleum Company to significantly reduce air pollution from all six petroleum refineries owned by the company at that time. Under the 2012 agreement , Marathon installed state-of-the-art controls on combustion devices known as flares and engaged in innovative practices to reduce waste gases that led to pollution. By the end of 2015, the 2012 agreement resulted in reductions of harmful air pollution by more than 5,200 ton per year.

On June 9, 2016, EPA and DOJ announced that Marathon, under an amendment to the 2012 agreement, will spend $319 million to install state-of-the-art Flare Gas Recovery Systems (FGRSs) that will capture and recycle gases that would otherwise be sent to flares at facilities in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio. Marathon will also spend $15.55 million on projects to reduce air pollution at three of the facilities and will pay a civil penalty of $326,500 to the United States. When fully implemented, the amendment is expected to reduce harmful air pollutants by an additional 1,037 tons per year in addition to the reductions achieved under the 2012 consent decree.

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Overview of Company 

Marathon Petroleum Company processes a broad range of crude oils from domestic and international sources and produces products including gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, and asphalt. In 2012, Marathon Petroleum Company processed approximately 1.195 million barrels per day (“bpd”) at six refineries and ranked as fifth largest refiner in the country. In 2013, Marathon purchased a 450,000 bpd refinery near Galveston Bay, Texas, and now processes approximately 1.794 million bpd and ranks as fourth largest refiner.

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Key Provisions of Amendment to 2012 Consent Decree

  • Requires Marathon to install 7 flare gas recovery systems (“FGRSs”) on 13 flares at five refineries
    • Canton, Ohio (one FGRS)
    • Catlettsburg, Kentucky (two FGRSs)
    • Detroit, Michigan (two FGRSs)
    • Garyville, Louisiana (one FGRS)
    • Robinson, Illinois (one FGRS)
  • Specifies the capacity of the FGRSs to ensure recovery of more than 90 percent of flared gases system‑wide
  • Requires Marathon to operate the FGRSs with “uptime” obligations that are more stringent than any EPA has achieved in prior settlements
  • Requires Marathon to maintain two extra, interchangeable FGRS compressors for delivery to any of the five refineries within 24 hours and for operation within 48 hours after delivery, as needed to meet stringent FGRS uptime requirements
  • Requires Marathon to shut down a flare at the fence line of the Detroit Refinery
  • Requires Marathon to continue to operate newly‑installed NOx controls on a heater at the Garyville, Louisiana Refinery
  • Requires Marathon to install NOx controls on a heater at the Canton, Ohio Refinery
  • Provides deadline extensions for compliance with hydrogen sulfide (“H2S”) limits at nine flares at four refineries so that compliance lines up with the major turnarounds that are necessary to finalize installation of four FGRSs
  • Eliminates the 30‑day limitation on the volume of waste gas that can be flared
  • Replaces Marathon’s obligation to comply with some of the flare combustion efficiency requirements of the 2012 CD with compliance with a new EPA rule governing flare combustion efficiency

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Cost Estimates for Amendment

  • $ 319 million for seven FGRSs
  • $ 15.55 million for mitigation projects
    • $6 million for shutdown of fence line flare at Detroit Refinery
    • $3.25 million for NOx controls at Garyville, Louisiana Refinery
    • $6.3 million for NOx controls at Canton, Ohio Refinery

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Estimated Emission Reductions from Amendment

  • The FGRSs are projected to reduce VOC, SO2, and NOx emissions from flares by a combined total of 896 tons per year:



Total Flare Emissions (tpy)

Estimated Flare Reductions from First Amendment FGRSs (tpy)

2019 Projected Flare Emissions


2019 Projected Flare Emissions per Flare (tpy)

VOCs including HAPs




















  • The enhanced FGRS “uptime” requirements and mitigation projects additionally provide projected VOC, SO2, and NOx emissions reductions of 141 tpy from various sources at the refineries as follows:
Pollutant TPY Reductions
VOCs including HAPs      16.7
SO2   10.4
NOx   114.0
  • The H2S compliance extensions are projected to result in one-time (not continuous “tons per year”) additional SO2 emissions of 52.8 tons over the course of 2.5 years, beginning on June 30, 2016, and ending on December 31, 2018.  Because, however, three FGRSs will start-up on June 30, 2016, and one NOx reduction project already is operating, these temporary emissions increases will be simultaneously more than offset by the emissions reductions from these activities.
  • After December 31, 2018 (when the one-time increase of 52.8 tons of SO2 stops), the seven FGRSs, the enhanced uptime of these seven FGRSs, and the three mitigation projects are projected to result in combined VOC, SO2, and NOx emission reductions of 1,037 tpy.  These emission reductions will continue indefinitely on a yearly basis.  

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement is lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The consent decree will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Robert Parrish
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-6946

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