Oregon renewable diesel project receives state air-quality permit
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality approved the air-quality permit Aug. 30 for Next Renewable Fuels’ $2 billion biobased diesel project. The approval is a significant milestone and key state permit for developing the renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility at Port Westward in Columbia County, Oregon.
The air permit was awarded after ODEQ performed an exhaustive 18-month review. The extended review period included a host of new and novel requirements that Next Renewable Fuels worked to meet and exceed. As such, ODEQ acknowledged that the facility will not have an appreciable impact on local air resources.
In its approval, agency leadership stated, “Next Renewable Fuels Oregon LLC is not a major source of EPA-listed hazardous air pollutants,” and “DEQ has concluded the potential emissions meet health-risk standards for the community and do not require additional controls to be protective of public health.”
The Next Renewable Fuels project is a tangible investment in making Oregon’s climate protection goals a reality, especially because it is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 7 million tons each year. ODEQ has stated that “using renewable diesel can cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions up to 85 percent.” With no need for engine modification, renewable diesel creates an immediate environmental and human health benefit while curbing reliance on fossil fuels.
“It’s imperative that we transition away from fossil fuels towards a cleaner-fuels economy as quickly as possible,” said Chris Efird, CEO and chair of Next Renewable Fuels. “Our project accelerates green-job creation and helps Oregon reach its aggressive decarbonization goals.”
Efird’s comments echo those of Richard Whitman, ODEQ director, who wrote a guest editorial in The Oregonian highlighting how “renewable fuels production and refining are burgeoning industries in Oregon creating hundreds of new, high-paying jobs.”
Next Renewable Fuels’ facility is expected to create 3,500 green jobs during construction and 240 long-term green jobs during operation. Forecasts show that the facility will generate more than $45 million in annual tax revenue for the state of Oregon and Columbia County. Tax revenues could be used for public safety, education, infrastructure, libraries and other public services.
The project has already received county land-use approvals and an Oregon Department of State Lands Removal Fill permit. The company continues advancing through the National Environmental Policy Act process overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.