Press Release Aug 15, 2018

Fighting for Commonsense Protections for Washington’s National Parks

Washington State Pollution Control Hearing Board decision to allow expansion of oil refinery in Puget Sound appealed

SEATTLE, Wash. – Today, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), represented by Earthjustice, appealed the Washington State Pollution Control Hearing Board (PCHB) decision to decline 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 limit air pollution as necessary to protect Olympic and North Cascades national parks from increased refinery emissions, according to NPCA.

The National Park Service, relying on its extensive air modeling, determined that the refinery’s expansion to process additional dirty heavy crudes would increase air pollution obscuring visibility and harming natural resources in both National Parks. Experts on behalf of NPCA argued that a revised air permit with stronger air quality controls 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 and Ecology that the expansion should go ahead without stringent pollutant controls to protect the parks.

Statement by Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for National Parks Conservation Association

“We are appealing the PCHB decision to continue fighting for clean air to protect air quality for Puget Sound, and Olympic and North Cascades national parks. Our parks and local communities deserve nothing less than the safeguards mandated by our nation’s clean air laws. The refinery already harms air quality in Olympic and North Cascades National Parks and surrounding communities while also contributing to climate change, and increased pollution from the refinery expansion will only cause greater damage.”

Statement by Ashley Bennett, Attorney for Earthjustice

“We can’t stand by and allow the air quality in our national parks to deteriorate for Big Oil’s increased profit margins. That isn’t a worthwhile trade, either for the people of Washington or the nation. The National Park Service has made clear that this is a bad deal for air quality in the parks, and the law requires the Department of Ecology to heed that finding and protect the parks.”