Tesoro Refinery Expansion Would Increase Utah Air Pollution

Joro-Walker“There is technology to control pollution from refineries, as well as limits to operations that better protect public health. Utah should not have approved Tesoro’s current plans increasing air pollution. I look forward to a legal ruling that requires Utah to meet its obligation to limit air pollution.”

– Joro Walker, Senior Attorney and Utah Director at Western Resource Advocates

Utah Already Has Some of the Nation’s Worst Air Quality

The Salt Lake City area of Utah (Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties and portions of Tooele and Box Elder counties) is designated as not attaining the national health-based standard for fine particulate matter air pollution.  Salt Lake County, the state’s most populous county, also violates the ozone air pollution standard.   In 2013, air quality along the Wasatch Front exceeded the United States’ health-based air quality standards – called National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) – for at least 47 days, sometimes exceeding the standard by 100%. Not surprisingly, numerous polls show that air pollution remains an issue of great concern to most Utah residents.

Western Resource Advocates Is Working to Improve Air Quality by Preventing Tesoro Refinery Expansion

On December 15th, 2014, WRA, representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Utah Chapter of Sierra Club, filed litigation appealing the Utah Division of Air Quality decision that issued an air quality permit to expand the Tesoro Corporation refinery in Salt Lake City. The case contends that the permit to expand the facility and refine more crude should be denied because the proposal will increase air pollution in a region with air pollution that is already exceeding health standards and is some of the worst in the nation.

The legal challenge claims that the Utah Division of Air Quality failed to undertake the thorough analysis and review necessary in issuing the permit, and in doing so is failing to protect public health. The case was filed with the Utah Supreme Court against the Director of the Division of Air Quality and Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality. The groups involved in the legal case are calling for the Utah Division of Air Quality to better analyze air pollution control technologies and impose sufficiently stringent short-term emission limits on all the pollutants that impact public health.


Click here to download the full Tesoro Opening Brief 

“The increasing number of patients we see as a result of our dirty air indicates that allowing this permit to go forward will only make their situation worse, not better. If there ever was a case where we need our state to step up and protect public health, this is it.”

– Dr. Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

Utah Air Pollution 


Related Blog Post

Woohoo! Legal Settlement Ensures Refinery Must Comply with Clean Air Act

By Joro Walker


Read More


Project Staff

Rob Dubuc

Rob Dubuc

Staff Attorney, Utah Office

Joro Walker

General Counsel