BREAKING: Phillips 66 pulls out of on-track renewable diesel project

Project cancelled despite having a clear path forward that in all likelihood would have led to the project getting built, according to the project proponents’ timeline. | January 21, 2020

Environmental group questions oil giant’s intentions in backing out of a promising biofuel refinery in Ferndale, Wash.

FERNDALE, Wash. — Phillips 66 backed out of their plans to build a biofuel refinery in partnership with Renewable Energy Group, Inc. adjacent to their existing Ferndale Refinery, despite having a clear path forward in the standard environmental review process that in all likelihood would have led to the project getting built according to the project proponents’ timeline. Complete and thorough public reviews of impacts to public health, air quality, and the climate are expected for large-scale projects like new refineries.

The state Department of Ecology and Whatcom County determined the new refinery would have significant environmental impacts and had just begun the public process for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), with public meetings scheduled in the first week of February. This standard state level review process has existed since 1971.

Following the announcement, RE Sources issued the following statements:

RE Sources questions why Phillips 66 pulled out of its renewable energy project in Ferndale, Washington today. After submitting the application on December 19th, the large-scale biofuel refinery was on track to be approved by 2021, and the permitting process was already moving quickly.

Phillips 66 began this project with Renewable Energy Group in 2018 with full awareness that major projects like this are always required to go through the standard state review process — this is the process that ensures environmental impacts are understood before permitting decisions are made.

In its press release, the oil giant points to permitting delays and uncertainties, of which there have been none, nor were any anticipated. This move calls into question Phillip 66’s true intentions, considering the widespread rollback of bedrock environmental laws initiated by the Trump Administration with support from the fossil fuel industry.

It appears Phillips 66 is willing to throw alternative fuels out the window to seed doubt and misinform the public about a 50-year-old environmental review process that has certainly not prevented them from expanding operations and making billions in profits in the years since.

Phillips 66 has lobbied against a Clean Fuel Standard in Washington state, that would incentivize products like renewable diesel in Washington’s fuel market in-line with similar rules in California, Oregon and British Columbia.

This project could have been a positive step toward more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, and was the manifestation of the oil giant’s public commitment to seek out innovative sources of renewable fuels. RE Sources is disappointed that Phillips 66 won’t be following through on that commitment to the public.

Media Contact: Eddy Ury, Climate and Energy Policy Manager, eddyu@re-sources.org, (206) 972-2001.

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