clear
Monday December 11th, 2017 12:19PM

India to phase out 'petcoke' imports after AP investigation

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's government says it plans to phase out imports of a dirty fuel known as petroleum coke, or "petcoke," after an Associated Press investigation found U.S. oil refineries are exporting vast quantities of the product to India.

But when it comes to domestic use, the Indian government seems to be going in a different direction. The government this week argued in court that restrictions on petcoke around polluted New Delhi should be eased for certain low-impact industries. The move has infuriated environmentalists.

The AP investigation found the U.S. sold about 20 times more petcoke to India last year than it did six years earlier after U.S. refineries struggled to sell the product at home. In 2016, the U.S. sent more than 8 million metric tons of petcoke to India, enough to fill the Empire State Building eight times over.

Petcoke is a bottom-of-the-barrel leftover from the refining of Canadian tar sands crude and other heavy oils. It's cheaper and burns hotter than coal. But laboratory tests on imported petcoke used near New Delhi found it contained 17 times more sulfur than the limit set for coal.

A day after the AP investigation was published, Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government was formulating a policy to end imports.

"We are planning to implement a system to stop imports and use home-produced petcoke for non-polluting sectors, such as cement production," Pradhan said on Saturday, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

He said fuel-hungry India consumes about 25 million metric tons of petcoke each year, nearly half of which is imported.

On Monday, the environment ministry argued in an affidavit against a ban on the use of petcoke and furnace oil in New Delhi and the surrounding states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. The Supreme Court imposed the ban on the three states in October after environmentalist M.C. Mehta filed a petition. The fuels were already banned in the capital.

The ministry said it wanted certain industries such as cement manufacturing to be able to use a small amount of petcoke for about a year until they could come up with alternatives.

But Mehta on Wednesday said petcoke has a big impact.

"There is an environmental emergency with New Delhi as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Pollution levels go up by 50 percent if you are burning petcoke," he said. "Is this government a custodian of people's life and health or is it there to benefit some industrialists?"

Mehta said the government typically only takes action on the environment when forced by the Supreme Court, which in India takes an unusually proactive approach to environmental issues.

Polash Mukherjee, an environmentalist with the Center For Science and Environment, said the ban was important for ensuring clean air until industries move to cleaner fuels or install emission control measures.

New Delhi has been choking from air pollution in recent weeks. The air quality typically deteriorates at this time of year because the winds die down, people build street fires to keep warm and farmers burn fields of old crops.

The pollution has gotten so bad it has even interrupted India's favorite sport of cricket. This week the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team wore pollution masks and the bowlers complained they were short of breath. Some players vomited. Play was stopped several times on Sunday as match officials debated whether to continue, eventually deciding they would.

The Supreme Court will hear the government's oral arguments on easing the petcoke ban next week.

In a separate case in October, the Supreme Court imposed a token fine on the environment ministry for not setting industrial emission standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in New Delhi and the surrounding states. The ministry has promised to comply with the court order by the end of the year.

Mehta, the environmentalist, said that whatever action India takes, the U.S. should impose its own measures by banning exports of petcoke.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors identify brain abnormalities in Cuba attack patients
Doctors treating the U.S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain hearing, vision, balance and memory damage
7:01AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Warnings intensify as Trump readies Jerusalem declaration
Warnings intensify as Trump readies recognition of Jerusalem, drawing fierce criticism from American friends and foes
6:58AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: EU lauds Hallyday as cultural bridge builder
A senior European Union official has lauded Johnny Hallyday as a cultural bridge between European and American culture, and says the French rocker beguiled young and old alike
6:50AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Britain urges move to Brexit phase 2 to solve border issue
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Brexit negotiations must not be held up by disputes over Irish borders and that the issue should be tackled in phase two of departure talks
4:11AM ( 3 hours ago )
Los Angeles moves toward legal pot sales milestone
Los Angeles is poised to take a major step toward becoming the largest city in the U.S. that licenses the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana
4:02AM ( 3 hours ago )
Patagonia expected to sue over Trump's monuments order
More lawsuits are expected Wednesday over the Trump administration's plans to shrink several national monuments.
3:56AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
GOP leaders seek to avert shutdown over spending
Top Republicans are trying to quell GOP divisions and line up support for a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial government shutdown Saturday
2:50AM ( 4 hours ago )
Leaders seek to end GOP fissures over bill averting shutdown
Top Republicans are trying to quell GOP divisions and line up support for a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial government shutdown Saturday
4:55PM ( 14 hours ago )
S&P 500 drops to third straight loss after tech rally fades
Another afternoon fizzle for stocks left the Standard & Poor's 500 index with its third straight loss on Tuesday
4:37PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Ridge out of hospital, into rehab following heart attack
Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is out of the hospital more than two weeks after suffering a heart attack and is continuing his recovery in a Texas rehabilitation facility
6:14PM ( 12 hours ago )
Tribes: Trump's monument order disrespects native people
A coalition of Native American tribes are joining the legal fight against President Donald Trump's move to shrink two large national monuments in Utah
2:04PM ( 17 hours ago )
US trade deficit rises to $48.7 billion on record imports
Record imports carry U.S. trade deficit to $48.7 billion in October, highest since January
9:51AM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Tribal request for Dakota Access spill response plan granted
A federal judge has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers and a pipeline developer to complete an oil spill response plan for a section of the Dakota Access pipeline beneath the Missouri River in North Dakota
3:34PM ( 1 day ago )
UAE denies claim of Yemen missile attack against its plant
UAE state-run news agency denies claim that Yemeni missile targeted its under-construction nuclear plant
8:12AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Trump gets glimpse of New York protesters
Trump gets a glimpse of protesters as he visits New York and takes victory lap at fundraisers after Senate passes tax overhaul
12:24PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Doctors identify brain abnormalities in Cuba attack patients
Doctors treating the U.S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain hearing, vision, balance and memory damage
7:01AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Warnings intensify as Trump readies Jerusalem declaration
Warnings intensify as Trump readies recognition of Jerusalem, drawing fierce criticism from American friends and foes
6:58AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: EU lauds Hallyday as cultural bridge builder
A senior European Union official has lauded Johnny Hallyday as a cultural bridge between European and American culture, and says the French rocker beguiled young and old alike
6:50AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Rock icon Johnny Hallyday, known as French Elvis, dies at 74
Johnny Hallyday, France's biggest rock star for more than half a century who all but lit up the Eiffel Tower with his pumping pelvis and high-voltage tunes, has died at age 74
6:28AM ( 44 minutes ago )
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: Amid warnings, Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital; Winds churn Southern California wildfires, keep aircraft from helping; Russia to analyze Olympics ban before taking any steps
6:25AM ( 47 minutes ago )