Take a stand against big oil in support of the Salish Sea!

Update: 2024 is off to a good start! Huge thanks to the incredible response from community members who sent comments on this issue. Whatcom County will likely be issuing a revised MDNS and hopefully it will address the project's potential vessel traffic impacts. You can view Whatcom County's memo here. Make sure you are signed up for action alerts to hear the latest as this issue evolves.

Friends is concerned about Phillips 66 adding transshipment capacity to its refinery, where products could pass through the facility without being refined. Without the limitations imposed by processing capacity, transshipment operations could increase vessel traffic, which would, in turn, increase:

  • Vessel noise and presence impacts
  • The risk of ship strikes, accidents, and oil spills
  • Potential impacts to Tribal Treaty Rights

How to Take Action

Submit your comments by 4:00pm on Friday, December 22nd via email to Mark Personius, Director, Whatcom County Planning & Development Services: [email protected]


In May 2023, Friends of the San Juans received an anonymous alert that the Phillips 66 Refinery in Ferndale was making changes to its facility, and that this is being or has been done without a permit. The changes would enable this refinery to also be a transshipment facility (where products pass through the facility without being refined) receiving diesel at their docks for resale in Canada via rail and truck. 

Friends submitted a Code Enforcement Investigation Request to Whatcom County on May 15, 2023. Friends is not aware of any action taken by Whatcom County in response to this code enforcement investigation with the exception of requiring this after-the-fact permit application. The fact that the renewable diesel transshipment infrastructure was constructed without obtaining the necessary permits demonstrates that the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery is not abiding by the rules without enforcement. The mitigating conditions for this permit need to be explicit, meaningful, and enforceable. 

Fortunately, Whatcom County required Phillips 66 to submit a permit application that included a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) checklist, which gives the public the opportunity to comment on the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.  

Friends is asking for a revised Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) with the following additional enforceable conditions: 

  1. Explicitly require the Renewable Diesel Infrastructure project to “not increase existing barge or vessel traffic or change the type of vessel traffic already occurring at the facility” as has been stated by Phillips 66. Require the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery to regularly provide publicly accessible documentation showing that the Ferndale Refinery only receives renewable diesel from tank vessels that are subsequently loaded with products refined at the Ferndale Refinery. This could be achieved by requiring the refinery to report to Whatcom County and the public the same Advance Notice of Transfer (ANT) data as is reported to Ecology.  
  1. The SEPA review must address all the project-related air quality impacts, including the impacts from the vessels’ engine emissions at the dock during the time it takes to unload the renewable diesel.  A possible means of mitigating these impacts would be to require project-related vessels at the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery dock to connect to shore power and shut down their auxiliary engines, to reduce air quality impacts from tank vessels’ engines while at the dock.  
  1. Consult with affected Tribes to identify appropriate mitigating conditions for this permit. If deemed appropriate by affected Tribes, include the requirement for thorough documentation that there was no discovery of archaeological resources and/or human skeletal remains during the construction of this project. 

Take action! Submit your comments by 4:00pm on Friday, December 22nd via email to Mark Personius, Director, Whatcom County Planning & Development Services: [email protected]

Want to dive deeper? More Information: 

I feel like I have found the home that I could not find anywhere else I have traveled and lived. Thank you, Friends of the San Juans, for protecting all of the islands and the Salish Sea.

Janet Burke

member, Henry Island