Fighting for Environmental Justice in Richmond, CA

The refinery was slated to emit more mercury, selenium and sulfur flare gas than before, in addition to as much as 900,000 tons of additional greenhouse gases per year.

Case Overview

Richmond, CA is home to a Chevron refinery that has been wreaking havoc on the local community for decades and was the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the state. The City of Richmond is a community that has long borne a disproportionate share of environmental hazards from the Refinery and other sources. People of color comprise the majority of the population in the fourteen neighborhoods surrounding the City’s industrial.

In 2008, Chevron proposed to expand its operation to include refining dirty crude, thus increasing its emission of dangerous pollutants. The environmental impact report that the city issued, however, failed to analyze the switch to dirty crude or to consider adequately an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Earthjustice represented three environmental justice groups and challenged the impact statement, which a lower court judge found illegal, whose opinion was upheld by a state court of appeal. The court halted the expansion until and unless the City of Richmond produces an environmental study that fixes all the flaws in the 2008 report.

In 2014, after concerted community pressure, the city of Richmond approved an updated version of Chevron’s refinery expansion project, which included much more pollution control than originally proposed and 90 million dollars for community benefits, which may be largest community benefits package for permitting an oil refinery project in the United States.

The City of Richmond, home to a Chevron refinery and tank farm, is already burdened by intense pollution caused by the fossil fuel industry.
The City of Richmond in California's Bay Area is already burdened by intense pollution caused by the fossil fuel industry. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Case Updates

July 19, 2013 Article

Obama Needs to Step Up Climate Change Plan

Only a great leap forward can succeed against this critical issue

April 27, 2010 Press Release

Appeals Court: Chevron Refinery Expansion Plans Illegal

Environmental impact report ruled inadequate

February 3, 2010 Press Release

Community Groups Endorse Jerry Brown Plan for Chevron Refinery

Attorney General's alternative proposal gains important support