Air quality in Utah is bound to get better, thanks to a settlement between the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and two oil refining companies. Last week, the entities announced a $425 million settlement with the companies to reduce air pollution at six petroleum refineries in the West, including the Tesoro refinery in Woods Cross.

Air quality in Utah is bound to get better, thanks to a settlement between the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and two oil refining companies. Last week, the entities announced a $425 million settlement with the companies to reduce air pollution at six petroleum refineries in the West, including the Tesoro refinery in Woods Cross. The other company involved is Par Hawaii Refining, which was formerly owned by Tesoro. The settlement resolves alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and requires installment of new equipment to control emissions.

In addition to the Woods Cross plant, the settlement covers refineries that Tesoro operates in Kenai, Alaska; Anacortes, Washington; Mandan, North Dakota; and Martinez, California. It also covers Tesoro’s former refinery in Kapolei, Hawaii.

Under the consent decree, the companies will spend about $403 million to install equipment to control carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other emissions at the refineries that process crude oil into gasoline, diesel fuel and other products. Federal officials say the settlement will improve air quality for people and the environment because the installed equipment will reduce pollutants, including an estimated 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Leaks, flares and excess emissions from the refineries emit air pollutants that have been shown or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects and harm to the environment, the officials said.

Tesoro will also spend about $12 million on three environmental improvement projects, including $1 million to replace old diesel school buses with new buses powered by natural gas in Contra Costa County, California. The San Antonio, Texas, company will also pay a $10.5 million civil penalty.

The settlement “provides important reductions of harmful air pollution in communities facing environmental and health challenges,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Tesoro said in a statement last week that it agreed to settle the case by making the investments to reduce emissions but did not admit any violations. 

“We are dedicated to operating in a safe and responsible manner that reduces the impact on the environment,” said Keith Casey, Tesoro’s executive vice president of operations.

In addition to the new school buses, Tesoro will also install infrared cameras at four refineries to detect leaks and spend about $11 million to install equipment on a furnace at its Woods Cross refinery to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

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