Community Groups Endorse Jerry Brown Plan for Chevron Refinery

Attorney General's alternative proposal gains important support


Will Rostov, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6700
Sandy Saeteurn, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, (510) 691-6236
Nile Malloy, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 926-5737
Dr. Henry Clark, West County Toxics Coalition, (925) 709-1924

Representatives of three community organizations announced they would endorse Attorney General Jerry Brown’s proposal to settle the challenge to Chevron’s refinery expansion. The groups — West County Toxics Coalition, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and Communities for a Better Environment, who have been represented in court and negotiations by Earthjustice — were joined by other community organizations, faith leaders and members of the Richmond community who support the alternative proposal.

Statements of support for the proposal also came from Father Ramiro Flores of St. Mark’s Church; Rev. Kenneth Davis, Executive Director of the Bay Area Coalition of Concerned Citizens; Kay Wallis, a UCSF Health Educator and member of Communities for a Better Environment; Dr. Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition; and Sandy Saeteurn of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

“Chevron’s Refinery is the largest air emitter in Richmond and the largest industrial greenhouse gas polluter in the state,” said Jessica Tovar from Communities for a Better Environment. “This proposal will get people back to work while offering greater health protection for people who live and work in Richmond.”

“Dirtier crude from Chevron means more dirty air for our children and families,” said Kay Wallis, a health educator at UCSF’s Pulmonary & Critical Care Division and a mother who lives in Richmond. “Richmond already suffers from refineries’ toxic fallout that causes asthma, cancer, and lung disease.”

Under the proposal, Chevron would:

  1. Create good jobs: The proposal would increase green jobs in renewable energy by requiring installation of solar energy at the refinery and in the Richmond community.
  2. Curb air pollution: Chevron would install the same kind of flaring prevention equipment already in place at the Shell refinery in nearby Martinez.  Chevron would also replace outdated boilers built in the 1930s and 1940s — as it originally promised to do as part of this project, but later indefinitely deferred.
  3. Reduce greenhouse gases and promote climate solutions: The proposal would improve energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 which would reduce greenhouse gas and toxic emissions at the refinery. It would also expand renewable energy sources such as on- & off-site solar, which would help jumpstart the sustainable energy solution to global warming and create green jobs in Richmond.

“It is foolish to commit to any refinery expansion without both protecting the people who live nearby and planning for a future in which we rely less on oil,” said Dr. Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition. “With help from the community and other stakeholders, the Attorney General’s office has crafted a sensible proposal that deserves our support.”

“Community groups have been willing and ready to negotiate since last summer’s court ruling. We have said yes to negotiations – from private mediation to court mediation to the Attorney General’s offer to mediate to recent state legislator’s offers to mediate,” asserts Sandy Saeteurn of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “We think labor and the Attorney General’s office should be brought into negotiations because they have important interests. We have nothing to hide — does Chevron?”

Background: On June 4, 2009, the Contra Costa County Superior Court ruled that the Environmental Impact Report for a planned expansion of Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California should have addressed changes in the grade of crude oil the refinery would process after the expansion, as well as methods for mitigation of any increase of greenhouse gas emissions the expansion would cause. The ruling was on a suit filed by the environmental justice groups Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), and West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC), represented by Earthjustice. Chevron has appealed the ruling.

In July 2009, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. offered to mediate negotiations for settlement among Chevron, the City of Richmond, and the environmental groups that filed the suit. With the support of community groups and other stakeholders, the Attorney General’s office has now crafted a proposal that would permit a refinery expansion while offering increased protection to Richmond residents and the environment.

Richmond residents have long suffered increased rates of ailments such as asthma, other respiratory diseases and cancer, that have been linked to exposure to chemicals commonly emitted by refineries. In 2009 the State of California released figures that showed Chevron’s Richmond refinery was the single largest industrial emitter of greenhouse gases in the state.

Read the Attorney General’s settlement proposal (PDF)

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