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Wild Side

Joe Allaben gives careful attention to help refineries run reliably, but his passion for the great outdoors is always at work.

While interviewing for a job at Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, Joe Allaben noticed a familiar name on the wall. The company was a supporter of Ducks Unlimited. His dad and grandfather were members of that same environmental conservation organization during Joe’s childhood years in Michigan.

More than 25 years later, Joe is now the Corporate Reliability Director for Flint Hills Resources’ refining and manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. In the past three decades, the company has contributed over $750,000 to Ducks Unlimited for restoring wildlife habitat across Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.

In the past two years, Ducks Unlimited has helped care for nearly 40,000 acres of Minnesota lakes and wetlands.

“Running a refinery is a highly complex business,” said Joe. “If you haven’t experienced that life, it’s difficult to understand how hard we work to protect the environment. We’re making fuels and other products that consumers demand. The goals of reliability are to maintain stable and predictable operations at our sites to stay safe and environmentally sound.”

Results of this work are evident. Since 1997, Flint Hills Resources has reduced its refinery emissions by 76 percent. The company earned a Clean Air Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, and achieved 31 percent lower overall criteria air emissions per barrel compared to other U.S. refineries. A four-year collaborative effort with the EPA was recently completed to share best practices and establish new industry standards.

“Many of us at the refinery spend our free time outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, hunting and skiing like a lot of other Minnesotans,” said Joe. “[The Pine Bend refinery] is proof that nature and industry can thrive side by side. We’re personally motivated to operate our plants responsibly and support groups like Ducks Unlimited.”