Proposed Emery refinery targeted by conservation groups
Published: July 22, 2013 05:54PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:35PM

Conservation groups have taken aim at a proposed oil refinery near Green River.

They are challenging a permit approved last month by the Utah Division of Air Quality, a decision they contend will harm the region’s air if the plant begins refining oil shale and tar sands from the Colorado River Basin’s Green River Formation.

“People travel from all over the world to enjoy the stunning vistas at Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Dead Horse Point,” said David Garbett of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “It makes no sense to risk compromising the remarkable views this region offers with visibility-reducing pollution from this refinery.”

Mike McCandless, Emery County’s economic development director, said the refinery does not plan to process tar sands or oil shale, although those were identified as initial sources in early stages of the permitting process.

“They plan to use existing, sweet and wax crude’s already being produced in Utah,” he said.

Air-quality regulators approved a pollution permit for the $224 million Emery Refining plant that would allow production of up to 20,000 barrels per day. Equipped with up-to-date emissions controls, the plant would be limited to 144.83 tons of key pollutants a year, 2.71 tons of hazardous air pollutants, and no more than 90.096 tons per year of carbon dioxide, a key component in the pollution blamed for climate change.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development gave a $12.7 million post-performance credit to the joint venture funded by London-based finance firm Bridgehouse Capital Ltd. and Woodrock & Co., a Houston-based investment bank. The plant is planned for a site 4 miles west of Green River in Emery County.

The challenge first faces a review by an administrative law judge on behalf of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. If either side rejects the agency’s final ruling, the case would go to an appeals court.

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: @judyfutah