The EPA will soon tighten air toxics regulations for coke manufacturers

For the few integrated mills that convert iron ore into finished steel, coke is a vital fuel source.

The EPA is about to publish a final update to its air toxics standards for plants that produce distilled coal, which some steelmakers use, after several delays by the agency that irritated a federal judge and threatened to find them in contempt of court if they persisted.

According to a notice on a government tracking website, the White House regulations office concluded a routine review of the strengthened standards for coke ovens on Wednesday, paving the way for EPA Administrator Michael Regan or another senior official to sign them in compliance with an impending court-ordered deadline.

For the few integrated mills that convert iron ore into finished steel, coke is a vital fuel source. For the industry, this would be the first update in nearly 20 years. In an email on Thursday, attorney Adrienne Lee of Earthjustice stated that she did not anticipate any significant changes between the final version and the public draft last summer, which required coke plants to monitor air levels of the carcinogen benzene along their boundaries with neighboring communities.