Refinery Fire Findings & Discoveries Meeting Explains Need for Big Changes
On Friday April 5th, Senator Loni Hancock and Assembly Member Nancy Skinner presided over a three and a half hour public meeting at the Richmond Civic Center. Over 200 people heard updates on the status of all of the investigations into the causes of and responses to the August 6th fire. There were over two hours of reports from the US Chemical Safety Board, Cal OSHA, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Contra Costa County Department of Environmental Health, the Governor’s Taskforce on Refinery Safety, Supervisor John Gioia, and City Manager Bill Lindsay which were then followed by Q&A and public comments.
The picture that was painted was more than just sobering. Multiple problems were clearly identified and discussed:
Upcoming Meetings & Developments
So What Can We Do?
Chevron Tries End-Run Around the Community
Chevron is trying to use Sacramento lobbying to bypass environmental protections for Richmond.
Negotiations are still going on between environmental groups, the city of Richmond and Chevron about protections for restarting the Chevron expansion project. But Chevron is now lobbying the state legislature to sneak through a special exemption which allows the giant oil company to do its project without having to file an Environmental Impact Report and reach agreement with the city about environmental protections.
In July 2009 a court ruled that Chevron's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its expansion project was flawed because it did not reveal its true plans for the expansion, Chevron stopped the project instead of submitting a revised EIR or negotiating with the environmental groups. Chevron then appealed and again the Courts ruled that its EIR was seriously flawed noting that Chevron told one thing to its stockholder but another to the community.
In the last few months a Democratic assemblyman has been serving as a mediator to find a way to restart the project. The city delegation for the mediation includes Mayor McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Ritterman, Council Member Viramontes, the City Manager and City Attorney (see Chevron Loses). In previous mediation attempts the environmental groups demonstrated a willingness to try other approaches to protect the community. Chevron has refused to seriously address concerns about community health.
A number of mainstream environmental organizations like the Planning and Conservation League have drafted letters to send to the leadership of the State legislature asking them to refuse an exemption to Chevron.
Write your legislator and ask that they too refuse to give a free pass to Chevron. Our air and water and our lives are too important to trade for Chevron campaign contributions. We don't want a further weakening of the California Environmental Quality Act. Demand that Chevron come to the negotiating table prepared to negotiate real protections of our air and water and to file a truthful and accurate Environmental Impact Report.
See the LA Times blog on this.
Appeals Court Rules against Chevron on Environmental Impact Report
On April 26 the Appeals Court rejected Chevron's main claims.
This leaves the injunction standing, the project stopped and 1200 workers not working. The environmental groups, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and West County Toxics Coalition, have demonstrated a willingness to negotiate a way to restart the project and provide for the health of the community and environmental concerns, including taking some major steps at the request of Attorney General Brown's office. Thus far Chevron has refused to budge.
For more detail see:
Chevron’s Move to Dirtier Oil: