BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
WEST BOUNTIFUL – Holly Refinery has received the state’s blessing to expand its operation, but environmentalists are vowing to fight it, even if it means getting a court injunction to stop it.
The expansion will bring Holly’s capacity will increast to 60,000 barrels a day from its current 40,000 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.
But environmentalists, who have been fighting the proposed expansion throughout the two-year planning process, are not taking the approval lying down.
“This is outrageous,”said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “It makes a mockery of the state’s supposed plan to clean up the air. We intend to fight this every step of the way, including seeking an injunction to stop it.
“While the state says they expect the citizens to voluntarily reduce their emissions, including changing their hair spray, the state has never turned down a single application from our largest polluters to expand and pollute more,” Moench said.
That’s not the way Holly sees it.
“We think it’s win-win for everyone,” said Mike Astin, Holly’s environmental manager. He said the plant will be able to expand while reducing overall emissions.
“(The expansion) is also a benefit for the community and state,” Astin said. When the second catalytic cracking unit is installed it is expected to add 45 jobs.
“We’re also trying to be a more profitable company,” Astin admitted.
To that, Moench said, “Las Vegas and southern California will get the increased supply of gas. Holly shareholders will make literally billions of dollars from this, and the only thing that Utah residents will get is increased pollution.”
In order to carry out the expansion, Holly must install controls to limit pollution, and install additional controls on existing equipment to offset increased pollution from the new equipment.
Regulators estimate there will be a seven-ton increase in particulate matter (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.
Those beliefs not withstanding, Moench took exception to the reduction claim at a public hearing held in January, saying the reductions change the nature of the permit required by law.
He called on the state Division of Air Quality to withdraw the plan review and “start the process over with valid emissions amounts that do not violate the 2008 consent decree.”
That decree was an agreement between the EPA and the state that called on Holly to reduce emissions created by the fluid cracking unit.
Holly will begin work immediately, Astin said.
Because of cold weather, foundations will be laid this winter, with other expansion work beginning in earnest in the spring.
The project will be built in two phases, each taking approximately two years.