Chevron Refinery Permit to Pollute Exposed

May 21, 2014
Today Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) asked the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to revoke a permit it gave Chevron to build a Richmond refinery expansion that could increase air pollution from one of the state’s biggest industrial climate polluters without required emission prevention and environmental reviews.

“Letting oil refineries expand without requiring—or even looking for—measures to prevent the resultant air pollution threatens our health.” said CBE Attorney Roger Lin.

The action follows CBE’s discovery that Air District staff gave Chevron “Authority to Construct” the project in 2012 without a Prevention of Significant Deterioration analysis, Environmental Impact Report (EIR), or public review. Chevron sought the approval despite court orders in 2009 and 2010 that invalidated its permits for a Richmond refinery project with many of the same elements. The courts found its EIR for that project failed to disclose impacts of refining lower quality oil and improperly deferred greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation.

Chevron’s new project would switch to lower quality oil, and—if unmitigated—could increase refinery GHG emissions by 725,000–890,000 tonnes/year, increase toxic emissions, and worsen a cause of Chevron’s disastrous 2012 fire, according to a revised draft City of Richmond EIR that relies largely on the Air District to mitigate project air impacts.

“Last month, we discovered the permit to allow the ticking time bomb of crude-by-rail with no public disclosure or environmental review. This month, it’s a permit that was stopped in the courts for a project that could be dirty, dangerous, and deadly. The Air District needs to answer to all our communities it’s putting at risk and make changes immediately,” demanded Vivian Yi Huang, Campaign & Organizing Director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

“Issuing air district permits prematurely before CEQA review of the project has been completed makes no sense, especially to a corporation that has demonstrated criminal negligence leading up to the August 2012 explosion and fire. Experience has shown that monitoring alone is less effective than controlling the source of emissions from the outset. We expect BAAQMD to do a better job of protecting the health and well-being of our community” said Marilyn Langlois of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

“It’s high time the Air Board members stand up to their staff’s errors in judgment in rubber stamping Chevron’s illegal permit and revoke it immediately,” stated Denny Larson of Global Community Monitor, a resident of Richmond. “The people of Richmond have suffered enough at the hands of Chevron and the Air District staff—it’s time for a change!”

The Richmond refinery has been among the state’s three largest GHG-emitting facilities in each of the five years when the Air Resources Board reported those emissions (2008–2012), emitting more GHG than any other California facility three of those years. Its 2012 crude unit fire that nearly killed 20 workers and sent some 15,000 residents to the hospital was caused by Chevron’s failure to heed its own workers’ warnings about corrosion from higher sulfur crude, the U.S.

Chemical Safety Board has found. Particulate matter air pollution from its catalytic cracker has increased to more than 1,700 pounds per day as the cat-cracker runs more oil produced from the heaviest parts of the crude stream, CBE’s review of Air District records has found. All of these impacts could worsen if the project enables Chevron to refine even lower quality oil. CBE delivered the request at a meeting of the Air District Board of Directors—elected officials of Bay Area cities and counties—that was held in San Francisco today.

1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600 • Oakland, CA 94612 • T (510) 302-0430 • F (510) 302-0437


About Martinez Environmental Group

We are a community health and environmental group located in Martinez, CA.
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