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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Neighbors Win One in Struggle Against Bullying Oil Refinery


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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 April 2010, 1:31 PM
California court stops refinery expansion over illegal EIR

<Update: This month, Chevron quietly let pass its final opportunity to appeal a California Court of Appeal decision that rejected the Environmental Impact Report for its expansion project at the Richmond Refinery.>

Most of us know what it's like to have a bad neighbor—but imagine one so bad that you're forced to regularly hide indoors from it.

Such a bully has long stalked the communities of Richmond, CA, but this week they got help—from the California State Court of Appeals. The court sided with residents against their nightmare neighbor, a Chevron Corporation oil refinery that's been pouring toxic pollution upon them for years, that would like to make things even worse by refining thicker, dirtier oil.

The court stopped Chevron dead in its tracks because its expansion plan relied on an Environmental Impact Report so deficient that the court ruled it illegal. It's not likely the end of this fight, but for Earthjustice and the folks it's standing up for, this is the best news they've had in years of struggle with Chevron.


"The court agrees that the people of Richmond have a right to know just how dirty the crude oil processed in this refinery will be," said Earthjustice attorney Will Rostov.

Harm at the hands of Chevron's refinery is something these neighbors have been facing—and trying to duck—for decades. Aside from the routine exposure they endure from refinery pollution, they often are forced to shelter inside their homes or businesses when the facility has accidents, fires and even explosions that significantly increase pollutant output.

"African American, Latino, and Asian communities near the refinery have borne a disproportionate burden of exposure to pollution from the refinery for decades. And the community has been fighting back for decades—this victory is huge," said Dr. Henry Clark, executive director of West County Toxics Coalition.

The Coalition is one of several environmental justice groups represented by Earthjustice, including Communities for a Better Environment and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. On their behalf, Earthjustice sued Richmond over its approval of the refinery expansion in 2008, saying the EIR violated the California Environmental Quality Act. Last year, a state court tossed out that EIR and halted further work on the refinery expansion.

The groups charge that the refinery would likely emit significantly more toxic pollution if it begins refining dirtier crude oil. This pollution would include chemicals linked to cancer and respiratory ailments.

The impacts of the expansion are global as well as local. The Chevron Richmond refinery is the single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state, according to data released by the California Air Resources Board in 2009.

Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading
omegle

Before there were black, latino and asians living near the refinery, whites lived there. Especially before there were any enviromental controls like there are now. The refinery emissions are much lower now than when whites were the majority of the residents near the refinery. So, stop with the implied racism! People moved to the area knowing the refinery was there. sesli sohbet

What I say to all this is if it weren't for Chevron Refinery in Richmond the city would be poor and not worth putting on the map. Lets just face it oil is what keeps EVERYTHING going so unless if you walk everywhere you go your just as bad as the polluting refinery.

I AGREE THE IMPLIED RACISM IS UNCALLED FOR! Are we not all human? Does it matter WHAT COLOR OR RACE IS GETTING HARMED? Words like that just divide people and what we need is to unite because there are ALLOT of issues to deal with. We should be color blind.

Not necessarily so. For decades polluting corporations have located their facilities in neighborhoods that have little political or economical influence--and these have been in neighborhoods that are African American, Native American and Mexican American--if they're not, they're very poor whites. I can guarantee that if you were to research these industries you wouldn't find them in the backyards of wealthy, powerful, white Americans.
Lana, Salt Lake City, UT

I live in Pt. Richmond where I can literally view the Refinery from my balcony. I am Caucasian and I can honestly say that in Pt. Richmond, it isn't poor people living here. This town is know for it's million dollar homes overlooking the Bay. When you say it's only in neighborhoods where "poor whites, African American, Native American and Mexican American's" reside, well it's just not always the case.

GEE? Why havent I heard ANYTHING about it here in the SF bay on the Local NEWS????????

your views on this topic are really interesting and give a clear cut view. Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

Before there were black, latino and asians living near the refinery, whites lived there. Especially before there were any enviromental controls like there are now.

The refinery emissions are much lower now than when whites were the majority of the residents near the refinery. So, stop with the implied racism!

People moved to the area knowing the refinery was there.

I do not think that racism has any point to this acticle and to the actions against Chevon. I do know that former residents should be medically checked out and Chevon should foot the bill on this as well.
I dont understand how you come up with implied racism?

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