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Environmental groups appeal state approval of ethanol shipments

Delaware Public Media


Two groups are appealing a decision by Delaware environmental officials to allow a refinery to ship 10,000 of gallons of ethanol a day through the state.


David Small, the outgoing secretary of Delaware’s Department of of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls, approved a request in late December that allows New Jersey-based PBF Energy to turn its Delaware City refinery into an East Coast ethanol hub.


But the Audubon Society and the League of Women Voters filed an appeal Friday, saying the refinery’s expansion into ethanol shipments violates the Coastal Zone Act of 1971.


"The Coastal Zone Act is Clear. It says there is to be no bulk product transfer of materials that were not already being transferred in 1971,” said Amy Roe, a volunteer with the Delaware Audubon Society.


The Coastal Zone Act does, however, allow facilities that existed before 1971 - like the Delaware City refinery- to expand.


The current appeal will force the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board to decide if these ethanol shipments constitute a new -prohibited- bulk transfer facility or an allowable expansion.


Roe has her doubts about the success of the appeal though, saying Delaware has made a habit of taking actions that erode the Coastal Zone Act. 


She points to Gov. Jack Markell’s approval of a permit in 2013 that allowed the Delaware City refinery to ship crude oil to a sister refinery in New Jersey.



“When we appealed that action we were denied the right to appeal based on jurisdiction,” she said. 


A spokesman for DNREC said the agency doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.


Lisa Lindsey of PBF Energy released this statement: “We have received the notice of appeal. We believe that DNREC clearly acted within its legal authority and look forward to an opportunity to defend the permit decision in connection with this appeal.”


The control board has 60 days to hold a hearing.    

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