BAAQMD Votes Breath of Fresh Air for the Bay Area
RPA environmental justice and climate catastrophe activists have been after our local refineries to clean up their air pollution for years, especially Chevron and now PBF Energy (who bought the Shell refinery in Martinez in 2020). The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Board of Directors met this past July and voted overwhelmingly in favor of strict new requirements for particulate matter emission standards.
As usual, this was a hard-fought campaign by local fossil fuel industries who decried the expensive overhaul and regulations. But the public health community and local activists mobilized mightily and won over the board members who needed to be convinced of the serious health impacts of refinery emissions on our communities. Our own Andrés Soto of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and Janet Johnson of the Sunflower Alliance have been key activists in this arena for many years. They were joined in the struggle by Climate Health Now and the California Nurses Association who brought critical numbers and voices of health care workers who supplied information to the board members as well as ardent advocacy for the cause. The Sierra Club and other local climate justice groups also participated.
This is a huge win and a moment for community celebration as we herald in the next stage of a just transition from fossil fuels. Refinery emissions as a major air polluter has been called to task and they have five years to clean up their act.