Gov. defends actions for oil refinery's future

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm •  Published: February 17, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell said critics of his administration's actions in a North Pole oil refinery's impending closure don't see behind-the-scenes work that could keep the refinery operating.

Flint Hills Resources announced earlier this month that the refinery would cease gasoline production on May 1 and the production of jet fuel by June 1.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/M6SNuW ) Parnell told the newspaper's editorial board that the price the state sets for refinery "royalty" oil is under review.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has said the environmental-cleanup issue needs to be resolved, and he called for Parnell to take a "personal interest" in the matter. Former Gov. Frank Murkowski said in a column that Parnell has to act more aggressively.

Parnell defended himself in the editorial-board meeting on Friday.

"Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't happening," Parnell said. "There are a whole host of players who are working diligently to make sure Interior residents get relief."

He also said his administration negotiated a lower royalty oil price in 2012.

Flint Hills completed its purchase of the refinery in April 2004. In 2009, the industrial chemical sulfolane, a liquid used in refining oil, was discovered to have leached into groundwater beneath the refinery, resulting in a plume about 2.5 miles wide and 3 miles long.