BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
WEST BOUNTIFUL — HollyFrontier’s Woods Cross Refinery has submitted new plans to the Utah Division of Air Quality to further reduce the refinery’s emissions as part of its effort to secure permitting for the Utah black wax portion of its modernization project.
The company made the announcement Wednesday morning in a press release.
The refinery has been under fire from environmentalists for its proposal to expand its operation. About 80 people turned out for a public hearing in January at the Division of Air Quality, mostly to voice opposition to the expansion.
In addition to changes already proposed, the refinery is proposing to replace several natural gas-powered drivers on compressors with electric motors.К
In its press release, the company said analysis shows the latest change to the proposal will reduce the refinery’s overall emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and carbon monoxide by 172 tons per year.
“This is significant for a lot of reasons,” said Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a group that has opposed the expansion. “It shows industries can come up with further reductions in air pollutants. My suspicion is there is still more they could do.
The reductions referred to in this press release are still not enough to offset all the increases from the proposed expansion, so the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) will not endorse this as a solution,” Moench added in an email.
The refinery’s projects completed as part of the consent decree will reduce the refinery’s overall emissions by 421 tons per year, according to information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The EPA has suspected what the physicians have claimed,” Moench said. “The EPA is to be congratulated for that.”
Mike Wright, vice president and refinery manager, called the project “a significant investment into the community.”
The refinery is proposing to redirect effluent from its sulfur recovery unit to a proposed wet gas scrubber, a change that would result in about 186 tons per year of reductions.
Holly has already spent $250 million on upgrades and expects to spend at least $225 million more.
“My suspicion is that Holly will have to submit a new permit application,” due to the increased changes, Moench said. “We will still push for ultimately moving the refineries, not letting them expand.”
Holly’s initial expansion proposal includes expanding and installing additional crude-processing units, a second catalytic-cracking unit, a cooling tower and several process heaters. If approved, the expansion would increase heavy crude processing of yellow and black waxes brought in from the Uinta Basin. The proposal includes planned modifications to existing units at the refinery.
As part of the permitting process, the Division of Air Quality will reopen the public comment period on the project and will hold a second public hearing at a future date.
“We are committed to being proactive and transparent in communicating information about our project and the refinery,” Wright said. “We try very hard to be a responsible business within the community.”
Learn more about Holly's finances and new dividends it announced here.