Activist groups are challenging the permit allowing the Holly-Frontier oil refinery in Woods Cross to expand its capacity.
The Utah Division of Air Quality issued a permit last month allowing Holly-Frontier to more than double its refining capacity. Work is already underway as the company prepares to install new equipment.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Friends of Great Salt Lake are working with Western Resource Advocates to appeal the permit to the state Department of Environment Quality. Doctor Brian Moench says they’re also asking for a stay to stop the work before it goes any farther.
“If the agency does not do that," Moench tells KUER, "then we intend to continue to pursue that part of it in state court, but we don’t know how long the agency will be evaluating this before they act.”
Mike Astin, Holly-Frontier’s environmental manager, says the permit was issued after a proper review, and when construction’s finished, he says the plant will actually produce less pollution than it does now. He believes the groups are going after the wrong target.
Astin says, “It’s a shame that some people want to spend the energy and their time and their money fighting an emissions source that, even if they were successful at stopping that emissions source, it would not impact the air pollution problem.”
Astin cites data from the Utah Division of Air Quality that says only 11-percent of the particulate pollution on the Wasatch Front comes from industry. Unlike auto emissions and other sources, though, industrial pollution is being allowed to increase under a state plan just submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.