Stopping HollyFrontier Expansion that Would Further Pollute Utah’s Air

Joro-Walker“We have all felt our eyes and lungs burn and worried about the health of our children and parents. Utah should not permit another new project that will result in a major increase in air pollution and make this bad situation worse.”

– Joro Walker, Utah Office Director and lead attorney on the case

HollyFrontier Refinery Expansion Would Make Utah’s Already Poor Air Quality Worse

Utah’s Wasatch Front has highly polluted air many days of the year. Kids are not allowed to play outside, the elderly are warned to stay indoors, and exercising outside is highly discouraged. Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in several northern Utah counties currently exceeds the Clean Air Act’s health-based 24-hour standard. Salt Lake County is also exceeding the national standards for ozone and is in violation of the sulfur dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) standards. It is no surprise that numerous polls show that air pollution remains the issue of greatest concern to most Utah residents.

HollyFrontier is one of the largest independent petroleum refiners in the United States, processing crude oil for gasoline, asphalt and other products. Refinery particulate pollution contains high concentrations of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds. The refinery contributes to Utah’s air pollution problem by directly emitting these hazardous air pollutants and PM2.5, as well as the pollutants that form fine particulate matter during inversions. HollyFrontier has filed for a permit to expand its operation, increasing the plant’s release of air pollution.

Western Resource Advocates Files Litigation to Stop Permitting of More Air Pollution

Western Resource Advocates, representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and FRIENDS of the Great Salt Lake, filed litigation appealing the Utah Division of Air Quality decision to issue an air quality permit allowing expansion of the HollyFrontier refinery.

The case contends that the permit should be denied because the expansion will result in a major increase in air pollution in a region that is already failing to meet federal air quality standards. The expansion will increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants by 13 tons per year. The HollyFrontier refinery proposal greatly surpasses permitted levels, with its flares alone contributing 240 tons of sulfur dioxide each year, which is more than twice the permit limit for the plant’s entire operations of 110 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.

“Permitting Holly to emit more pollution in our already highly polluted region is a death sentence for some individuals,” said Tim Wagner, Executive Director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “Our state agencies must do a better job of reducing air pollution and protecting public health.”

The challenge claims the Division of Air Quality failed to calculate the emissions from the proposed expansion accurately. The heart of the issue is that the expansion will result in a major increase in air pollution, which is not allowed by federal law in an air pollution “non-attainment area” such as the Wasatch Front. By federal law, the Division of Air Quality may not permit the expansion unless the company secures a greater air pollution reduction elsewhere in the non-attainment area and the Division shows an overall air quality benefit.

To receive a copy of the legal filing contact [email protected]

Project Staff

Rob Dubuc

Rob Dubuc

Staff Attorney, Utah Office

Joro Walker

General Counsel