Southern California air regulators decline to livestream refinery flares

By Wes Venteicher | 04/08/2024 06:06 AM EDT

Environmental and community groups wanted the livestream because they said regulators can miss some instances of smoking flare violations due to the time it takes for air district staff to travel to see the flares.

Flares burn off methane and other hydrocarbons at an oil and gas facility.

Refineries burn or “flare” gas that accumulates as part of the refining process. David Goldman/AP

The South Coast Air Quality Management District in California on Friday shot down a proposal to livestream gas flares at local refineries and also rejected the stricter of two proposed air pollution standards.

Community and environmental groups had pushed for more stringent measures to try to hold refineries accountable for unplanned flares that have become more common in the last four years and to improve air quality in the Long Beach area.

The air district’s staff concluded in a report that the $2 billion expense of meeting the stricter standard would not be cost effective, and they acceded to industry concerns that a livestream of the stacks could implicate federal cybersecurity laws governing chemical facilities.


Refineries burn or “flare” gas that accumulates as part of the refining process, producing pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. The air district regulates a basin with the worst ozone pollution in the U.S. and is tasked with bringing the area into compliance with state and federal standards.