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Flint Hills reaches deal on expansion

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy of St. Paul, and the Environmental Integrity Project of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday announced they had reached a settlement agreement with Flint Hills Resources to cut greenhouse gas and other air pollution from a proposed expansion of their refinery in Rosemount.

According to the terms of the settlement, the company has agreed to:

• Improve the energy efficiency of heaters, crude distillation towers, and other units at the plant.

• Adopt industry-leading standards that will limit the emission of smog forming chemicals, and ensure that emissions are accurately monitored.

• Contribute $1 million to Project Green Fleet, a program administered by the Minneapolis-based Environmental Initiative.

In exchange, EIP and MCEA agree not to contest FHR's air quality permit applications the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is currently reviewing. The agreement takes effect upon issuance of a final air-quality permit for the refinery.

The details of the agreement are as follows:

Energy efficiency

Flint Hills has agreed to cut greenhouse gases by about 52,000 metric tons per year -- about a fifth of the total expected increase from the project. Those cuts include:

• 24,000 metric tons: New and modified heaters will be required to maintain an exhaust gas temperature that is at or below 350 degrees farenheit during normal operations, to ensure that higher temperature gases are recycled instead of wasted.

• 8,000 metric tons: Coker units will be improved to recover more fuel gas.

• 20,000 metric tons: A crude unit will be modified to capture more waste heat.

Flint Hills will also conduct two energy audits at the refinery to identify potential improvements to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants while lowering operating costs at the same time.

Emission limits and monitoring

FHR has agreed to cap cooling tower emissions of volatile organic compounds to no more than -20.32 tons per year, by promptly repairing leaks identified through state-of-the-art monitoring.

$1 million investment to reduce soot and smog

FHR also will contribute $1 million to the Environmental Initiative's Project Green Fleet, a diesel engine retrofit program that has already reduced fine particulate emissions in Minnesota by the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road. MCEA will work with Flint Hills and Environmental Initiative to coordinate Project Green Fleet's expansion.