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Protect frontline communities from refinery pollution

Delivery to the South Coast Air Quality Management District
23 Days Remain

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What’s At Stake

Our South Coast region has some of the worst ground-level ozone pollution in the nation, and petroleum refineries are a major source of this harm to our public health. For decades, petroleum refineries have been using the same aging and high-polluting equipment – forcing neighboring communities to endure dangerously unhealthy air and an alarming number of toxic leaks, explosions, fires, and other preventable tragedies that threaten their health and safety. It’s time the South Coast Air District implement a Refinery Rule to curb harmful emissions and tackle refinery dangers – send them a message today.

Thanks to lenient policies, refineries have been able to delay critical equipment maintenance and upgrades that their facilities need in order to comply with state laws meant to protect public health and safety. Some of this equipment was originally installed decades ago, as far back as the 1960s. Refinery Rule 1109.1 is a critical first step to holding this powerful industry accountable and providing frontline communities with the basic protections they deserve. Yet the rule is under threat, as behind-the-scenes, lobbyists are trying to weaken the rule and delay the rulemaking process indefinitely.

For far too long, refinery pollution has exposed residents in the region to a range of harms, including asthma, diminished lung functions, and premature death. And community members are often left to foot the bill for these impacts ⁠— through increased health care costs, missed workdays, and school absences.

Frontline communities have waited too long for protections from these harms, and we can’t afford to wait any longer. We are demanding that the South Coast Air District take action and pass a strong Refinery Rule 1109.1 to finally require refineries to install life-saving technologies to curb their dangerous emissions NOW.

Flaring events contribute to air pollution at the  ConocoPhillips Oil Refinery in Wilmington, Calif. in 2012
Jesse Marquez

Flaring events contribute to air pollution at the ConocoPhillips Oil Refinery in Wilmington, Calif. in 2012

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.