The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with HollyFrontier Corporation subsidiaries (HollyFrontier Refining & Marketing LLC, Frontier El Dorado Refining LLC, Holly Refining & Marketing Company—Woods Cross LLC and Navajo Refining Company LLC) that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations regarding fuel quality emissions standards and testing requirements at three HollyFrontier facilities. Under a consent decree lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, HollyFrontier will implement a mitigation project at its refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah, to offset past emissions and pay to the United States a $1.2 million civil penalty.
“This agreement will benefit public health by requiring retrofits of storage tanks at HollyFrontier facilities that will reduce volatile organic compound emissions and use next generation technology to verify these reductions,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and natural Resources Division. “This settlement shows that fuel refiners can and must meet the nation’s standards for controlling the emissions that cause ground level ozone and serious health problems for Americans.”
“Fuel emissions standards help safeguard our nation’s air quality and public health,” said Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement not only means cleaner air for communities in Salt Lake City, it helps ensure a level playing field for fuel refiners that follow the law.”
The Clean Air Act requires fuel refiners to ensure the conventional gasoline they produce meets volatility standards, referred to as Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standards. As gasoline evaporates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released, which react in sunlight to form low-level ozone. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion and can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. VOCs also include a wide variety of hydrocarbons, some of which are hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, xylene and ethyl benzene.
HollyFrontier disclosed to the EPA that three of its refineries—the Navajo Refinery in Artesia, New Mexico, the Woods Cross Refinery in Woods Cross, Utah, and the El Dorado Refinery in El Dorado, Kansas—produced approximately 42 million gallons of gasoline that was introduced into commerce in the Utah, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Idaho markets that exceeded the applicable RVP standards. HollyFrontier reported to the EPA that these violations are estimated to have resulted in about 10 excess tons of VOC emissions.
Under the settlement, HollyFrontier will install new equipment on two tanks at its Salt Lake refinery to reduce potentially-toxic VOC emissions by about 96 tons over the lifetime of the consent decree. The company will be required to use next generation pollutant detection technology during the implementation of the mitigation projects and be required to hire a third party to verify its compliance status for the mitigation projects. Due to the enduring nature of the projects, environmental benefits accruing as a result of these projects are anticipated to continue for many years. The facility where the pollution controls will be installed is located in an area that may present environmental justice concerns.
EPA’s Next Generation Compliance Strategy promotes advanced emissions and pollutant detection technology so that regulated entities, the government and the public can more easily see pollutant discharges, environmental conditions and noncompliance.
More information about EPA’s Next Generation Compliance Strategy is available at: http://www2.epa.gov/compliance/next-generation-compliance.
For more information on the settlement or to read the consent decree, visit http://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.