Bakersfield Refinery Expansion Challenged

A coalition of environmental groups moved to force federal regulators to take a stand on reopening of a Bakersfield oil refinery that wants to make its operations five times larger, processing up to 70,000 barrels a day.

The Center for Biological Diversity and others sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday contending the agency failed to take action within the mandatory 45-day review period on a request by Alon USA to restart its refinery.

Alon had asked the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to modify an existing permit that would allow the company to restart crude refining, increasing from 40 tank cars a day to 208 tank cars, importing up to 63 million barrels of crude a year.

At its capacity, the refinery would process 70,000 barrels of oil daily, according to the lawsuit.

The groups argue that the EPA failed to act on the groups’ objections within the 45-day window, in alleged violation of the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit seeks an order forcing the EPA to take action on the pollution review so the groups may move forward with a challenge if necessary.

The center argues the refinery has significant public health implications in an area of the Central Valley that has been designated an “extreme nonattainment” area, meaning it has high levels of ground-level ozone, or smog.

Joining the Center for Biodiversity in seeking action from the EPA are the Sierra Club, Climate Change Law Foundation and the Association of Irritated Residents.

Case: Center for Biodiversity v. US EPA, No. 16-cv-1946

 

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