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YUMA, Ariz. -- Phoenix-based Arizona Clean Fuels LLC, may construct the first U.S. oil refinery to be built in nearly three decades, which will reside in Yuma County, Arizona, reported Bloomberg.com
More than 100 people turned out last Thursday evening at Antelope Union High School for a public hearing about construction of the refinery, and while some had strong opinions in support of the project, others voiced concerns.
Supporters say the new refinery will be a boon to the local economy, bringing jobs, more development and tax revenues, The (Arizona) Sun reported. Others say they are concerned about the possible impact on the environment and want safeguards put in place to make certain Yuma County gets its share of the benefits.
"This is going to have a gigantic, enormous effect," said Wayne Williamson, Republican candidate for the Yuma County Board of Supervisors. "I think this should go on the ballot. It's too big of an issue for a few people to decide."
Arizona Clean Fuels must get the proposed site rezoned from agricultural to heavy industrial use and be approved for an air quality permit by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) in order to build. Other permits will also be required before construction can begin.
The purpose of Thursday's meeting was to gather public comments about making a major amendment to the Yuma County 2010 Comprehensive Plan. Next, the Yuma County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting Sept. 27 and make its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
The board will then vote on Nov. 15 whether to approve or deny the plan amendment. However, Arizona Clean Fuels will still need to go before the county for rezoning approval and to get a special use permit, according to the report.
The refinery, to be located along Interstate 8 and Avenue 45E, would produce approximately 7 million gallons per day of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The crude oil would arrive by way of a proposed $500 million pipeline from Mexico.
The majority of the land for the proposed site, more than 3,200 acres, is owned by the federal government, and the rest is privately owned, including one warehouse and three residences.
ADEQ officials have said new technology developed since the last U.S. refinery was built in 1976, combined with more stringent air-quality regulations, means the Yuma refinery, if built, would be the cleanest operating refinery in the nation, the report stated.
If all permits are approved and the company is able to begin construction in 2005, the refinery is projected to be in operation by 2009.