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Phillips 66 & partner “withdraw” renewable diesel project planned at Ferndale refinery

Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery (date unknown). Photo courtesy of Phillips 66

FERNDALE, Wash. — Officials with Phillips 66 announced via a press release today the decision to discontinue plans to construct a large-scale renewable diesel plant on the Phillips 66 Ferndale refinery property at Cherry Point.

The press release cited permitting delays and uncertainties as the reason for the decision to cancel the 250-million-gallon-per-year project that would have been the largest renewable diesel refinery on the west coast.

While we believe the Ferndale Refinery is a strategic fit for this renewable diesel project, permitting uncertainties were leading to delays and higher costs. Robert Herman, Phillips 66 executive vice president of Refining

The Washington State Department of Ecology and Whatcom County Planning & Development Services were in the process of beginning a public comment period from January 16th to February 18th in order to get community, tribal and stakeholder input “about what should be studied, what methods should be used, and what mitigation should be considered” in preparing an environmental impact statement according to the Whatcom County website. Public meetings had been scheduled in Anacortes, Ferndale and Bellingham for early February. 

Announced back in November 2018, the Green Apple Renewable Fuels Facility, a joint effort with Renewable Energy Group, would make diesel fuel from waste fats, oils, greases, animal fats and cooking oil. The facility would have been located within the Phillips 66 facility located at Lake Terrell and Unick Roads and made use of existing refinery tank storage, marine dock and rail and truck access.

Officials with Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group will be working with county and state officials “to wind down the ongoing permitting process,” according to the press release.


  1. Ron Reimer January 21, 2020

    brilliant ideas crushed by symbolism
    Over substance , Steward of the earth snowflakes poising as Whatcom county natural resource department employees. Can’t blame it all on them as there are plenty of fake enviros screaming end of the earth ( unless I get a grant types everywhere).
    Why do we keep falling for the made up crisis ?

    • Steve davis January 21, 2020

      With the county council appointing another activist to the planning commission it will get worse before it gets better unfortunately

    • Sharon Thompson January 21, 2020

      Yup, Ron Reimer and Steve Davis: I couldn’t have said it better!

  2. John Fox January 21, 2020

    Whatcom County Council shoots themselves in the foot……. again!

    • Rebecca Pinquoch January 21, 2020

      Agree. Whatcom families can’t afford to live here on minimum wage jobs.

  3. John Fox January 21, 2020

    Whatcom County Council shoots themselves in the foot……. again!

  4. John Eggers January 21, 2020

    The WCC won’t be satisfied until the refining and smelting businesses have packed up and moved out of WC. The question is, what will replace those industries? Have any plausible Ideas surfaced yet?

  5. Kimberly C Cooper January 21, 2020

    Biodiesel still puts co2 in the air. County has zero solar and zero wind. They make more jobs.

    • Pat Pollock January 21, 2020

      It is simply not true that we don’t have solar and wind industry in Whatcom County and also an installed base. You should do more research on the community businesses and opportunity before making such statements. As well bio has a lot more positive than negative to our transitioning from fossil fuels.

    • Dennis Nerwith January 21, 2020

      Oh boy, all the school buses will be switching from bio diesel ((recycled (greenish) fats)) to electric. Wonder how much school taxes will go up then? Same for all the semis that deliver most everything to everyone. Same for the trains. We’ll need LOTS of electricity and batteries. Windmill in the back yard anyone?

      • Kerrry whitworth January 22, 2020

        They have no control over the railroad.

      • Bryon mercer January 22, 2020

        How about a mile deep hole mining lithium for all the batteries needed to switch to electric and what happens to the batteries when they are bad? Besides a toxic landfill or an even worse facility dealing with worse chemicals needing to be implemented in the place of the refineries to deal with the change.

    • Tim Sexton January 21, 2020

      What will be done with these waste streams we could have recycled into fuel? Will they be added to landfills where microbes will break them down into nitrogen and CO2 anyway, seems much wiser and greener to utilize them for transportation. The population density of the earth is increasing to the point we need to look at all the angles of waste recycling and food, fuel production etc. Instead of throwing rocks at each other and picking sides just to get elected.

      • Ryan Rutter January 22, 2020

        Thank you Tim. I very much agree about developing waste to energy.

  6. Atul Deshmane January 21, 2020

    Permitting delays could be referring to a Determination of Significance by Dept of Ecoligy requiring a full EIS. However this is in no way unusual for a project this large .. so … I am left to wonder what the actual reason is.

  7. Atul Deshmane January 21, 2020

    Permitting delays could be referring to a Determination of Significance by Dept of Ecoligy requiring a full EIS. However this is in no way unusual for a project this large .. so … I am left to wonder what the actual reason is.

  8. Dennis Nerwith January 21, 2020

    Another good tax source and employment opportunity for county residents down the tube due to bureaucracy, and NIMBYism. And, it would have been carried out at an existing facility. Pity….

  9. martha Bennett January 21, 2020

    an environmentally minded project for sustainability destroyed by the environmentalists ? Who would of thunk it !

  10. Brady miller January 21, 2020

    I can only hope it isn’t the beginning of serious bad decisions by those who believe the latest doomsday malarkey. They wont stop til they’ve burnt it to the ground unless we match their votes next election.

  11. Ben Brown January 22, 2020

    Why all the foot dragging? Renewable fuel is such a good environmental idea and the facility is already in place. We the people should be helping Phillips out to get going.

  12. Matt Lubetich January 22, 2020

    Whatcom County, and this area specifically, are earmarked for large industrial clients. Existing infrastructure/expertise support, train or trucked fats in closed vessels, jobs and product (not just delivery terminal) creation taxes, I can’t see a better business match than this one for this area. Scratching my head.

  13. Wynne Lee January 23, 2020

    Lots of speculation here about why the Phillips bigwigs changed their minds. They knew and planned for the EIS process when they first proposed this months ago and County has not in anyway pushed back, was on schedule to evaluate project. Might very well be corporate reasons (maybe re-estimation of fuel stock availability? A more lucrative investment opportunity? They prefer to wait until they can design and build an automated facility with very few human jobs/wages?).
    From comments here, it’s obviously very easy to trigger the knee jerk reaction that ONLY ‘the county’ is to blame, but I suspect that Phillips PR guys deliberately & strategically chose wording to avoid telling their whole story.
    Every corporation (and most politicians) know how easy it is to trigger such automatic responses, whether truly justfied or not.

    Trigger knee jerk anti-county reactions leaves Phillips totally off the hook for what doubtless are complex reasons for their voluntary corporate response, ones they prefer not to make public, because it’s not good for their image or bottom line.

    • Matt Lubetich January 25, 2020

      Hi Wynn, I appreciate your constructive feedback. I look forward to more telling information revealed over time.

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