Stop Illegal Construction of Oil Refinery

canyonlands national park

Target: Bryce Bird, Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality

Goal: Stop the construction of an oil refinery that received approval without a permit or environmental reviews

Recently, the state of Utah awarded permission to energy company Emery Refining to construct a new oil refinery. It would be the first new refinery built in the state in over three decades, and opponents of the proposal claim that the Utah Division of Air Quality has violated state laws put in place to protect human health, wildlife and the environment. The state agency granted approval for the project despite the fact Emery has not received a building permit and no public or environmental reviews have been conducted to determine whether the refinery would comply with public safety laws. Urge the Utah Division of Air Quality’s Director, Bryce Bird, to prohibit construction of the refinery until the reviews have been completed.

The proposed construction site is located in eastern Utah, miles away from Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Emery obtained a building permit for a new refinery in 2013, but conservation groups legally challenged it and won based on unlawful pollution claims. Under Utah state law, Emery is required to receive a new permit before it proceeds with the construction project. Despite the failure to abide by state law, the Division of Air Quality granted the company approval to proceed with building plans. Opponents argue that air quality within eastern Utah has worsened over recent years and that state-mandated pollution levels will be exceeded in the near future, even without the new refinery.

State officials have given in to oil and gas industry lobbyists. They have thrown support to a proposed expansion of local oil transportation lines that would connect oil, shale and tar sands deposits to area rivers. State air quality rules require a public comment period and a public hearing, along with environmental reviews, before a new refinery can be built. Urge Director Bird to follow state laws and demand that the refinery construction project immediately be put on hold.


Dear Director Bird,

I recently learned that the state of Utah granted permission to Emery Refining for the construction of a new oil refinery, even though the company has not acquired a building permit and environmental reviews have not been conducted to assess potential risk to public health and wildlife.

As Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, it is your responsibility to ensure that the proper, state-mandated rules are followed before a new refinery is constructed. You have taken an oath to protect the environment and its inhabitants, yet your actions suggest that oil and gas industry lobbyists carry more weight than humans and wildlife do with your agency.

I urge you to ensure that the new refinery construction project is put on hold immediately and I expect you to adhere to state laws and your agency’s core mission.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: snowpeak via Wikimedia Commons

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