|Councilmember Rogers on Chevron Lawsuit
June 23, 2009
Councilmember Jim Rogers asked that I share this email from him:
Chevron Safety Guarantee Guarantees Jobs
Judge Zuniga's recent decision finding that the Environmental Impact Report on Chevron's Hydrogen Renewal Project was defective will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to let Chevron know that the approval process was badly flawed.
We need the jobs and the replacement of aging, dangerous equipment and facilities, but we need ironclad safety guarantees that heavier, dirtier crude will not lead to worse air pollution .
Numerous studies have shown that people in polluted, congested are as (e.g. parts of Richmond) are losing about a year off of their life expectancy due to air pollution.
Although there are other contributors to this deadly plague besides refineries (e.g. diesel and auto exhaust), we shouldn't give a license to Chevron that would possibly result in dirtier, more lethal, air pollution for decades to come.
Chevron and CBE and its environmental allies have been arguing about various highly technical measures to ensure that the Project doesn't result in dirtier air.
Neither side wants to see the 1100 workers currently working on the Project get laid off.
Fortunately , there's a way to ensure safety, and ensure that the Project can continue.
Rather than rely on mind-numbingly complicated formulas about machinery, thru-puts and grades of crude oil, there is a simpler solution. Chevron should agree that the emissions will be measured periodically (every 3 or 5 years or so) and, if the air is dirtier, then Chevron's approval to process the heavier , dirtier crude is yanked.
A neutral party (e.g. the Air Board) would monitor the effect on air quality.
CBE's experts claim that Chevron's proposed technological fixes won't successfully ensure that the air won't get worse, and Chevron's experts claim that CBE's proposed technological fixes won't successfully ensure that the air won't get worse.
It is hard to find outside independent experts who will vouch for either set of proposed fixes being an absolute guarantee.
people of Richmond have suffered enough asthma, and premature deaths
from living in an area with diesels, cars and heavy industry emissions.
In the 90s, as a Contra Costa County Supervisor, I wrote the County's Good Neighbor Ordinance, imposing strict safety requirements on quick-buck refinery operators who prioritized short term profits by cutting corners on safety with predictable (and lethal) results. (Not coincidentally, the routine explosions and toxic clouds stopped happening once the toughest in the nation Good Neighbor Ordinance was passes.)
I don't have warm fuzzy feelings about Chevron. (And the feeling is mutual: they spent big bucks on lying hit pieces in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent me from being elected to the Richmond Council.) But I do think Chevron walks the walk on safety- and they honestly believe their project's complicated set of technological fixes will avoid dirtier air, in spite of the heavier, dirtier crude oil.
They may well be right, but independent safety experts aren't so sure.
That's why I voted against the Project when it was approved by the Richmond City Council, on a hotly contested 5-4 vote, without an ironclad safety guarantee.
It's ti. me for both sides to get out of their foxholes and end the protracted political and legal warfare by adopting this compromise clear air guarantee proposal.
In a deep recession, with record unemployment, we can't afford laying off 1100 local workers, and we can't afford dirtier air.
And we don't have to have either.