Lawsuit filed in attempt to block oil refinery expansion

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jul 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-23 19:48:46-04

WOODS CROSS, Utah – A group of doctors and environmentalists have filed a lawsuit trying to block the expansion of an oil refinery in North Salt Lake Monday.

The State Division of Air Quality has already signed off on an expansion request at the Tesoro Refinery and is currently reviewing a proposal that would double production at the Holly facility.

“The refinery expansion is a major step in the wrong direction,” said Dan Mayhew with the Utah Sierra Club.

Allowing refineries to expand, Mayhew said, would have a disastrous effect on air pollution along the Wasatch Front.

“Really, this is a public health, quality of life, issue and everybody that lives here knows that we have major air quality issues,” he said.

The Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment aren't just concerned about the extra emissions from the expansion of the Tesoro refinery, they`re also concerned about the extra emissions from the semis bringing in more crude oil.

Despite increased production at refineries, Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, said their actual emissions are the same or lower than before the expansion.

Bird said the department is currently working on a plan that will demand lower emissions from refineries in the future.

“We're in that process of developing new plans, rules, requirements, so even when we have the worst meteorology possibly, we can still provide clean air for the people of Utah,” Bird said.

Elizabeth Moore, of Woods Cross, has lived next to the Holly Refinery for nearly 45 years.

“We've liked it, and they've been good neighbors up to this point. We just assumed they not expand,” Moore said.