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Saturday, July 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Groups plan to sue over oil refineries, air pollution

Agencies failed to regulate them, letter claims

Phuong Le Associated Press

SEATTLE – Two environmental groups said Tuesday they intend to sue the Washington Department of Ecology and two clean air agencies for not limiting global warming pollution from oil refineries.

The Washington Environmental Council and the Cascade chapter of the Sierra Club said the agencies have violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to require the state’s five oil refineries to install technology or take other measures to control greenhouse gases.

“There are reasonable things that the oil companies can do to clean up their air pollution and they’re not doing it. The law says they must,” said Becky Kelley, campaign director with the Washington Environmental Council.

The groups notified Ecology, the Northwest Clean Air Agency and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency of their intent to sue in federal court.

Seth Preston, a spokesman for Ecology, said the department is still reviewing the groups’ letter. He said “the state of Washington has been, and will continue to be, a national leader in addressing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Officials at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency also said they are reviewing the groups’ claims, and executive director Craig Kenworthy said his agency is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There are five oil refineries in Washington state operated by BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil, Tesoro and U.S. Oil. Two are in Anacortes, and the others are in Blaine, Ferndale and Tacoma.

The environmentalists estimate that the refineries together account for about 8 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide released through the combustion of fossil fuels.

The groups noted in their letter that only one of the five refineries – Tesoro’s facility in Anacortes – has an operating permit for air emissions that has not expired. They said none of the permits contain requirements to control greenhouse gas emissions.

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