NEXT’s application materials were riddled with inconsistencies

“…Between this permit denial and fierce opposition from neighboring farmers, the future of NEXT’s controversial proposal is far from certain.”

-Audrey Leonard, Columbia Riverkeeper

September 26, 2022


Oregon DEQ Denies Water Quality Permit for “Renewable” Diesel Refinery, Again

Clatskanie, Ore. (September 26, 2022)—On September 6, 2022, the Oregon ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied NEXT Renewables LLC’s (NEXT) application for a Clean Water Act section 401 water quality permit. NEXT sought the permit as part of a plan to build a so-called “renewable” diesel refinery near Clatskanie, OR. 

Residents of Great Vow Zen Monastery, which would be very close to the proposed refinery, testified to DEQ in favor of protecting clean air, clean water, and the health of the community. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy.)

DEQ denied the permit because NEXT was unable to answer basic questions about the proposed diesel refinery and its effects on water quality. Columbia Riverkeeper’s public records request revealed that DEQ sent NEXT a letter containing over six pages of questions and clarifications in August of 2022. 

“NEXT’s application materials were riddled with inconsistencies, and NEXT was apparently unable to answer even DEQ’s basic questions,” said Audrey Leonard, Staff Attorney at Columbia Riverkeeper. “Between this permit denial and fierce opposition from neighboring farmers, the future of NEXT’s controversial proposal is far from certain.” 

This is actually the second time DEQ has denied NEXT’s water quality permit application. DEQ denied NEXT’s first application in September 2021, also citing NEXT’s failure to provide important details about the proposed refinery and its potential water pollution. 

 “NEXT hasn’t been able to tell a straight story to the community or to DEQ. DEQ was right to deny this permit,” said Jasmine Lillich, a local farmer and fifth-generation resident of the Clatskanie area. “Our community would face the risk of significant water pollution that could harm our health, our homes and our farms, and we stand firm with many of our neighbors against this project.”

DEQ denied the NEXT’s application “without prejudice,” meaning NEXT could apply a third time. That process could take another year to complete. 

What’s next?

Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals will soon determine whether NEXT can build a 400-car railyard in a sensitive wetland and agricultural area. A decision is expected on or before October 7, 2022. 

Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Columbia Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization with over 16,000 members who live, work, and recreate throughout the Columbia River​​​​​​​