Groups of Utahns worried about unhealthy levels of pollution in Wasatch Front air say they will continue to fight for a repeal of state permits granted for oil refinery expansion. But, along with appealing to the state Department of Environmental Quality and perhaps filing a lawsuit in the likely event the appeal is denied, the groups should be targeting state legislators.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club and Utah Moms for Clean Air are right that big polluters such as the Tesoro refinery in northern Salt Lake City should do more to reduce their toxic emissions. Especially because Utah must reduce soot levels to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency standards or face sanctions, it is counterproductive to allow a polluting company to expand and increase its emissions.
Under the Tesoro expansion approved by the DEQ in September, the refinery will increase oil production and, at the same time, boost its emissions of volatile organic compounds by 16 percent. VOCs contribute to Utah's toxic summer and winter pollution levels. The expansion plan would also reduce sulphur by just less than 8 percent.