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The Papers of Howard Klee re Amoco - U. S. EPA Pollution Prevention Project of Yorktown, Virginia

Identifier: MSS-2012-04

Scope and Contents

In recent years, environmental regulation has come to the forefront with such cases as Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007) and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker (2008). However, environmental regulation has a longer history in Virginia. In 1989, Amoco Oil Company (Amoco) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to a voluntary, joint pollution-prevention project that would focus on Amoco’s refinery in Yorktown, Virginia. Yorktown was an especially exciting place to undertake this study, as it would provide the opportunity to study pollution prevention at a working industrial facility. The Amoco-EPA project was one of the first of its kind, combining efforts of a major oil company and the EPA to determine methods to reduce air, land, and water pollution during the oil refinement process.

Over the course of nearly six years, a number of workgroups provided oversight and direction, as the project used a multi-media sampling program to identify potential pollutions sources at the Amoco Refinery in Yorktown. The work groups’ findings were peer reviewed, and workshops were convened in which persons from various professional backgrounds met at the facility to conduct research and provide input into the project. In addition, separate engineering projects identified the major sources of pollution, and they later simulated the effects of implementing pollution-reduction measures. Engineers worked together to assess environmental impacts, costs, risk reduction for people living near the facility, and any liability that could be incurred by the refinery.

A final executive summary issued by the project explained that it had hoped to accomplish a set of goals for pollution prevention: the inventory of refinery releases, including their “chemical type, quantity, source, and medium of release”; the development of various options to reduce those releases; the ranking of various options based on a set of criteria and professional perspectives; the identification and evaluation of factors that inhibit pollution prevention in practice; and the enhancement of the “participants’ knowledge of refinery and regulatory systems.” The accompanying data records the success of the project.

In addition to being one of the first projects to engage both corporate and government efforts to reduce pollution, it also exhibited a nuanced multidisciplinary effort, involving participants from a variety of disciplines in the sciences and humanities, as well as concerned members of the Yorktown community.

Howard Klee, one of Amoco’s co-managers on the project, donated his collection of materials, including documents and photographs, from his experience on this project. The collection reflects the multidisciplinary effort of the project, as it not only includes scientific analyses and engineering reports, but also the executive summaries written across the years. The project is also a visual one. Included in the collection are unique data maps of the refinery, as well as a set of photographs taken between 1989-1992 that reflect the work of the field scientists, engineers, and academic participants. Roundtable discussions featuring locals affected by the refinery and potential pollution reduction are available on digital video (converted from their original VHS formats), and local Virginia news reports surrounding the project are also available digitally. Finally, the collection contains Klee’s personal correspondence and handwritten notes throughout the various stages of the project.


  • Creation: 1988-1995


Biographical / Historical

Howard Klee is currently a director of two programs for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): the Cement Sustainability Initiative and Tire Industry Project.

Klee graduated from Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, and he went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT.

During the years of the Amoco-U.S. EPA Pollution Prevention Project, Klee worked as a co-manager for Amoco. Following his work at Amoco, Klee worked with Chevron and BP, serving both executive and business functions that involved strategic planning, business development, environmental affairs, and manufacturing.

In addition, Klee served on President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development, and he also worked as the director for the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment. In addition, Klee has experience in academia, holding faculty appointments at the University of California-Davis, the University of Michigan, and the University of Geneva.

After the conclusion of the Amoco-EPA Pollution Prevention Project, Klee authored a number of texts related to the project, and in 2012 BiblioGov published a book by the U.S. EPA related to the Yorktown project, which included many of Klee’s findings.

*Biographical information cited from WBCSD website


2.5 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection of documents (1988-1995) reflects one of the earlier corporate and government efforts to prevent and reduce pollution. It contains data collection and analysis, projects, budgets, maps, correspondence, interviews, drafts, reports and photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These files were donated to Special Collections by Mr. Howard Klee, by recommendation of Prof. Jonathan Cannon, in 2012.

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Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States