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Cleaner Tier 3 fuel arrives in Utah to help shave emissions

Gov. Gary Herbert, Marathon Petroleum celebrate milestone

Gov. Gary R. Herbert, and Timothy T. Griffith President, Speedway LLC. Gets ready to pump some gas as Speedway LLC, opens a new Speedway convenience store and gas station that will sell lower-sulfur “Tier 3” gasoline, marking continued progress in improving Utah’s air quality through the production of cleaner gasoline in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert, and Timothy T. Griffith President, Speedway LLC. Gets ready to pump some gas as Speedway LLC, opens a new Speedway convenience store and gas station that will sell lower-sulfur “Tier 3” gasoline, marking continued progress in improving Utah’s air quality through the production of cleaner gasoline in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A more than five-year effort to bring cleaner burning Tier 3 fuel to Utah gas stations was marked Monday at the Speedway on Beck Street, where a bevy of officials celebrated its official debut at the pumps.

“It is extremely important to do everything we can to clean up our air,” said Gov. Gary Herbert.

He said the Tier 3 fuel brought to Utah by Marathon Petroleum will not cost any additional money for motorists, yet its pollution reduction in emissions is the equivalent of taking four or five cars off the road.

“I am going to buy some gasoline and a hot dog,” Herbert quipped, holding up a Speedway discount membership card he was given by the company’s president, Tim Griffith.

Speedway is new to Utah and has 26 stores that were fully converted in early November.

Emissions from tailpipes cause roughly half of the air pollution along the Wasatch Front. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said no state would benefit more from implementing the Tier 3 gasoline standard than Utah due to several counties that exceed national air quality standards for both fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, and ozone pollution.

Karma Thomson, Marathon Petroleum’s vice president of corporate affairs, said she recalled talking to Alan Matheson, then-director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, in 2014 about the issue of Tier 3 fuel.

She said she told him the company was committed to investing in new equipment that would “scrub” the fuel of its sulfur to less than 10 parts per million.

“It’s nice to be here full circle” to celebrate the achievement, she said. “It’s simply the right thing to do. ... We are part of the community, not just in the community.”

Herbert said the company invested more than a $100 million in the technology and was assisted in part with a post-production tax credit granted by the state through the Legislature.

The EPA is requiring all refineries to meet the Tier 3 standard by 2020. However, larger companies like Marathon have the option of using credits where upgrades at facilities would be costly. Utah refineries, under the standard, could use the credits to comply rather than bringing the fuel to Utah.

Peterson said Marathon opted to transform its fuel at the Salt Lake refinery because its employees live in communities impacted by the Wasatch Front pollution problem.

The event drew multiple lawmakers who lead the Utah Legislature’s Clean Air Caucus, including Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, and Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton.

Matheson was also there because of the hours invested in getting Tier 3 to Utah when he led the state’s environmental agency.

“This is the culmination of years of effort to bring these cleaner fuels to Utah,” he said.

Despite the blowing snow, Herbert asked his staff to fill up the Suburban at the Speedway.

“We cannot thank Marathon enough,” Herbert said. “This is a red-letter day.”