Press Release Jul 18, 2018

Puget Sound Oil Refinery Permitted to Harm National Park Air Quality

The refinery expansion will go ahead without stringent pollutant controls to protect Washington's parks

SEATTLE, Wash. – Yesterday, the Washington State Pollution Control Hearing Board (PCHB) declined to order Washington Department of Ecology to reassess an air permit granted to British Petroleum (BP) for the expansion of the Cherry Point oil refinery in Puget Sound. The permit fails to require the best pollution control measures which would reduce harmful air pollution at Olympic and North Cascades national parks, according to National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

The National Park Service, relying on its extensive air modeling, had demonstrated that the refinery’s expansion to process more dirty heavy crudes, would increase air pollution obscuring visibility and harming natural resource values in both National Parks. Experts on behalf of NPCA, represented by Earthjustice, argued that a revised air permit with stronger air quality requirements was required under Clean Air Act directives and that a stronger permit would substantially decrease the likelihood of degraded air quality and negative effects of climate change in protected national parks and surrounding communities. Unfortunately, the State of Washington Department of Ecology chose to disregard the Park Service modeling, and agreed with BP that the expansion should go ahead without stringent pollutant controls to protect the parks. The PCHB deferred to Ecology.

Joint Statement by Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for National Parks Conservation Association, and Janette Brimmer, Attorney for Earthjustice

“We’re disappointed that the PCHB did not send the weak BP Cherry Point refinery permit back to the Washington Department of Ecology’s for improvement. The refinery already harms air quality in Olympic and North Cascades National Parks and surrounding communities while also contributing to climate change. The increased pollution from the refinery will only cause greater damage. We’ll be reviewing this decision carefully to consider how best to protect air quality for Puget Sound, and Olympic and North Cascades national parks.”