Along the Columbia River in Washington state, developers are planning the first new oil refinery on the West Coast in 25 years.

Paradoxically, the goal of the project is to meet new clean-fuel standards.

It's certainly not a result local environmental groups expected when they championed those standards.

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The plan is to turn an unused section of the Port of Longview, Washington, into a refinery that handles both crude oil and biofuels, reports NPR.

Riverside Energy--the company proposing the refinery--is seeking to satisfy rising demand for biofuels, particularly in Washington state's neighbors to the south.

In March, the Oregon legislature reauthorized a measure requiring the state to cut carbon emissions from transportation 10 percent over the next decade.

Biodiesel pump. Image by Flickr user Horatio_Nailknot

Biodiesel pump. Image by Flickr user Horatio_Nailknot

California already has a low-carbon fuel standard, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee has proposed one for this state that is yet to be signed into law.

Riverside expects the refinery to process 45,000 barrels of fuel per day, although only about one-third of that output will be biofuels.

ALSO SEE: Washington State Follows CA, Imposes Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (Apr 2014)

Environmental groups likely won't be pleased by this turnabout, and Oregon officials are reportedly skeptical as well.

They said a refinery producing mostly crude-oil products was never the intended result of the state's clean-fuel push.

Offshore Oil Rig

Offshore Oil Rig

But depending on how much biofuel is produced, the refinery could help Oregon meet its carbon-emission goal.

"They could be more attractive because they would produce a cleaner, lower-carbon product," said Cory-Ann Wind, a planner for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Clean Fuels Program.

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The refinery still needs the approval of Washington state officials before construction can start.

Washington has reportedly never taken less than a year to approve a major energy project.

The process will have to be completed relatively quickly, its backers said, if the refinery is to be finished in time to produce meaningful amounts of low-carbon fuel by the end of the decade.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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