Activists fight to stop Holly Oil Refinery expansion

Posted at 9:37 PM, Nov 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-19 23:37:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The State gave the green light to one of Utah's top industrial polluters to expand. Holly Oil Refinery now has permission to double its capacity but environmental groups plan to put a stop to it. Environmentalists say Holly's plan to expand is bad for the public's health. One group warns a lawsuit is coming.

"Holly shareholders stand to make billions of dollars literally and we'll be left in Utah with decades of more pollution," said Dr. Brian Moench, who is the President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Activists like Dr. Moench vow to stop the refinery's plans to expand.

"We're going to fight this vigorously, we're going to file for an injunction soon," Moench said.

Groups like Heal Utah call The Department of Environmental Quality's decision to grant Holly a permit to double its capacity, poor timing. "This is the wrong time to allow refineries to process more oil and add more pollution," said Heal Utah's Matt Pacenza.

On Fox 13's Live at 4, Heal Utah went face to face with the DEQ and the environmental manager for Holly.

"For this particular permit some pollutants are going up slightly but the majority of omissions are going down," said Bryce Bird with DEQ.

DEQ says while the refinery will be pumping out 60,000 barrels of crude a day under the expanded permit, Holly has plans in place to reduce emissions.

"First of all we're putting strict controls on the new equipment we're putting in," said Michael Astin, the Environmental Manager at Holly Refinery.

The DEQ says the permit is not a done deal; the public has a chance to oppose it. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says they plan to file an injunction in the next several days.