ConocoPhillips’ Billings refinery is located close to the downtown area of the city of Billings. The plant has therefore come under intense scrutiny regarding its emissions as well as its dealings with local residents.
The American Petroleum Institute invited a group of energy bloggers (paying for hotel and airfare) to see first-hand how this facility has managed itself as a responsible member of the community. SmartEnergy joined the group to learn about the refining process and the politics surrounding the Billings plant.
The refinery has twice been awarded EnergyStar designation by the EPA for its comparatively efficient production processes. It also established a Citizen’s Advisory Council to maintain an open dialogue between the community and ConocoPhillips. This council has been instrumental in tracking the plant’s social, economic, and environmental performance.
While the efficiency and community involvement efforts of the refinery are commendable, one concern is its reliance on oil sands, also known as bitumen or tar sands, for petroleum stock. This is a larger issue regarding America’s energy portfolio options, however, and will be addressed in a number of upcoming podcasts.