Gov. Inslee’s office sees ‘opportunity’ in Longview oil refinery

Marissa Luck, June 3, 2015, The Daily News

A proposed $800 million oil refinery at the Port of Longview may comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed Clean Fuels Standard, although the governor is stopping short of endorsing the project.

 

Since at least February, the Inslee administration has been talking with top officials of Houston-based Riverside Refining about the company’s plan to build a “micro refinery” at the Port of Longview.

 

In a Feb. 6 email obtained by Columbia Riverkeeper, a Hood River-based conservation group, Riverside CEO Lou Soumas wrote to the port that the governor’s office was “anxious to tie us into their just-issued Clean Fuel Standard process and other activities important to the (state’s) energy and commerce plans.”

 

In February, the state released a draft Clean Fuel Standard which would gradually reduce pollution generated by cars and trucks over a 10-year period. The fuel standard would help the state comply with a legislative mandate to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, but the fuel standard hasn’t been made into law yet, according to the state Department of Ecology.

 

Any new refinery would have to comply with the Clean Fuel Standard, should one be adopted. The governor’s office Tuesday said it was not certain whether the Riverside project would do so.

 

“We certainly can’t say we’re endorsing the project, but it’s no secret that the governor is interested in reducing carbon emissions. So I think their proposal was certainly interesting for our team, given the biofuels component of their project. It could be an opportunity,” Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said Tuesday.

 

In addition to refining 30,000 barrels of crude oil a day, the proposed plant would process 15,000 barrels of used cooking, seed and vegetable oils.

 

But Miles Johnson, a Columbia Riverkeeper attorney, questioned whether the project should fit into a Clean Fuel Standard.

 

“We don’t think that was the intent with which a lot of people got behind (the Clean Fuel Standard). If this is going to result in shipping more crude oil in Washington and generally more reliance on fossil fuels and crude oil, then we don’t think this project lives up to a Clean Fuel Standard,” Johnson said.

 

Word of the proposed refinery leaked out in April, but the port didn’t formally announce it would negotiate with the company until last week.

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