WEST BOUNTIFUL – Two environmental groups are fighting to stop the expansion of Holly Refinery.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Friends of the Great Salt Lake filed an appeal Wednesday with the Department of Environmental Quality to stop the expansion of the Woods Cross refinery.
They are also planning on filing for an injunction to prohibit the refinery from proceeding with construction until the matter is resolved in the courts.
“Our DAQ is allowing big oil to exploit Utah residents,” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
“Expanding the refineries makes a mockery of the state’s supposed plan to clean up our air,” said Moench. “Our patients, our families and our communities deserve better than this.”
The appeal will be turned over to an administrative law judge who will rule independently on the matter.
Holly received its permit to expand on Nov. 18. While there will be an increase in some pollutants, overall pollution should decrease, said Holly’s environmental manager Mike Astin.
The expansion will bring Holly’s capacity to 60,000 barrels a day from its current 40,000 barrels daily, by installing additional crude units and increasing the capacity of existing units. It will also add a second catalytic cracking unit, a cooling tower and several process heaters.
Regulators estimate there will be a seven-ton increase in particulate atter (PM) emissions annually, but they believe there will be a 150.7 ton reduction in sulphur dioxide and a 21.5 ton reduction in nitrogen oxides.
The appeal is “what we expected,” Astin said.
“They spend their time, effort and money focusing on something that is such a small part of the (pollution) problem,” he said.
Getting to the point in the process that Holly was awarded its permit, “was a long process,” Astin said.
“The state reviewed us in excruciating detail and we met all their requirements,” Astin said. With permit in hand, Astin said the refinery plans on proceeding with work.
But environmentalists are adament the state should take another look at the refinery’s expansion.
The permit granted by the state to Holly is in violation of the Clean Air Act, the Utah Conservation Act, and the Utah Air Quality Rules, a press release sent out by the two environmental groups said.
Refinery pollution has been shown to be even more toxic than what comes from automobile tail pipes, making the refinery expansions an even larger threat to public health, it continued.
The groups also believe the expansion may hurt the state’s economy by driving away cleaner businesses, depressing real estate values, harming overall quality of life, and increasing health care costs.
“From the standpoint of common sense this doesn’t make any sense. California and Nevada will get the extra gas, Texas oil corporations will make billions in windfall profits, and all Utah will get is decades of more pollution,” said Lynn deFreitas, executive director, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake.