Whatcom refineries among state’s biggest polluters

Three Whatcom County facilities are among Washington state’s biggest polluters, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA recently released data showing greenhouse gas emissions for 2013. The data showed that the BP refinery at Cherry Point, Alcoa Intalco Works in Ferndale and the Phillips 66 refinery in Ferndale were among the 10 biggest polluters in the state.

The BP Cherry Point refinery was rated as the second largest polluter in the state, releasing more than 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other gasses in 2013. This represents an increase over 2012, when the refinery emitted 2.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, which are widely believed to contribute to global climate change.

Alcoa Intalco Works rated the second largest emissions in the county, with more than 1.2 million metric tons. Ferndale’s Phillips 66 refinery was responsible for nearly 800,000 metric tons of emissions.

Washington’s largest polluter is the TransAlta power plant in Centralia, the last coal-burning power plant in the state. The plant released more than 7.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, a sharp increase over 2012, when the plant released 4.5 million metric tons. Under legislation passed in 2011, the coal plant will be shut down completely by 2025.

Overall, Washington suffered a 30 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2012. According to Ray Lane, a spokesman for Puget Sound Energy, the spike in greenhouse gas emissions could be attributed to a drop-off in hydroelectric power use in 2013 compared to 2011 and 2012.

All facilities that release more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon emissions are required to report them to the EPA. Additionally, any facility that releases more than 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses must report their emissions to the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE). Those facilities have reported their 2013 emissions, and a report from the DOE is expected later this month.

For a full chart of greenhouse gas emissions from throughout the country, visit 1.usa.gov/1wuZr1A.

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