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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2018 


The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

Daily Newscasts

On 50th Anniversary, a Call for Cleaner Air for North Cascades

The expansion of a nearby oil refinery could increase bad air-quality days in North Cascades National Parks by more than two weeks. (Jeff Hollett/Flickr)
The expansion of a nearby oil refinery could increase bad air-quality days in North Cascades National Parks by more than two weeks. (Jeff Hollett/Flickr)
October 3, 2018

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - North Cascades National Park turns 50 this week, and one group wants Washington state to give the park a gift - with stronger air pollution controls on a nearby oil refinery.

The Washington state Department of Ecology has approved facility updates to BP's Cherry Point refinery north of Bellingham, allowing it to increase production by nearly 9,000 barrels a day, up from its current volume of about 236,000 barrels a day.

In order to expand, said Rob Smith, northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, the state also should require the oil company to install better pollution protections - and it has the technology.

"BP should do what they've done at their other refineries around the country, which is install fully modern pollution-control equipment, and Ecology is simply not asking them to do that," he said. "We believe they should, and we hope the governor will encourage Ecology to do that."

The National Park Service says the Cherry Point expansion would increase the average number of "impaired" air-quality days at North Cascades from 38 to 54 a year. The agency also found it would bump up the number of bad-air days at Olympic National Park, south of the refinery, from 57 to 70.

BP has said the facility upgrades will increase safety and efficiency.

Smith said North Cascades is a special park, and more smog won't help its wildlife, environment or park visitors.

"It's the most rugged mountain range in the contiguous United States, the lower 48, and a lot of that is being able to see it," he said. "Clean air is an important part of going to the North Cascades."

The National Parks Conservation Association has launched a petition calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to direct the Department of Ecology to revise the Cherry Point expansion permit to require stronger anti-pollution measures. The petition is online here.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA