SEATTLE - Environmental groups are going to court to force regulators to do a better job of restricting greenhouse gas emissions at five oil refineries in Washington.
The Sierra Club and Washington Environmental Council said Thursday a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle by Earthjustice.
It aims to force the state Ecology Department, Northwest Clean Air Agency in Mount Vernon and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Seattle to enforce greenhouse gas regulations for refineries under the Clean Air Act.
The refineries are BP Cherry Point near Blaine, ConocoPhillips in Ferndale, Shell Oil in Anacortes, Tesoro in Anacortes and U.S. Oil in Tacoma.
Permitting agencies failed to require reasonably available control technology – a term known as RACT – for greenhouse gas emissions, the environmentalists said.
New technology and increased efficiency could reduce emissions from the refining process, they said.
“We’re asking the clean air agencies to enforce laws already on the books,” said Janette Brimmer, a lawyer with Earthjustice.
The executive director for the Mount Vernon agency, which oversees four of the refineries, Mark Asmundson said he hoped the lawsuit could be settled in a way that results in real environmental benefit.
Regulators felt there would be little benefit in analyzing refineries for “reasonably available control technology” for greenhouse gases, he said.
Although climate change is important, refineries are a small part of the total greenhouse gas equation, he said