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  Chevron Modernization Hearings Begin on July 22, 2014
July 19, 2014

City Council action on Chevron’s appeal of the Planning Commission approval of the Chevron Modernization Project begins with a public hearing on July 22 and possible action on July 29. Click Here for the Staff Report and all supporting documents.

Staff is recommending that the City Council support the Planning Commission’s adoption of Alternative 11 for the Conditional Use Permit but drop the inclusion of other conditions added by the Planning Commission generally as requested by Communities for a Better Environment and the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Staff has found that there are significant potential legal issues in the conditions adopted by the Planning Commission, other than Alternative 11.

In addition, staff has included a draft “Chevron Refinery Modernization Project Environmental and Community Investment Agreement.” that describes how $60 million will be spent. The $60 million includes the $30 million previously included in the FEIR Mitigations and Conditional Use Permit for greenhouse gas reduction and an additional $30 million for community projects and programs. Click here for the draft Chevron Refinery Modernization Project Environmental and Community Investment Agreement.

Currently, the plan is that no debate will occur at the July 22 meeting, just a staff report, brief presentations by Chevron and a supporter of the Planning Commission decision and public testimony.

Please note that on July 22, a Proclamation Presentation and the Study and Action Session unrelated to the Chevron matter  will be held in the Council Chambers starting at 5:30 p.m.  The City Council will recess and reconvene at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium for the Public Hearing on the Chevron Refinery Modernization Project at 6:30 p.m.

The next two City Council meetings focusing on the Chevron Modernization appeal are likely to be prolonged and emotional as well as raucous. Chevron will send an army of union members, vendors and recipients of Chevron non-profit largesse to support Chevron’s appeal. Community groups, including Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CISCO), Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), and the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), among others, will lead the charge to maintain the conditions imposed in the Planning Commission approval. Click here for the latest pitch by CBE.

This is a tough decision by the City Council, and there is no clear direction or right answer. The project, just like Chevron itself, has both advantages as well as disadvantages to Richmond. No one knows how far Chevron can be pushed before they abandon the project or decide to litigate it.

One thing that concerns me is the  Chevron Refinery Modernization Project Environmental and Community Investment Agreement. I don’t think it has enough money in it, and I am not satisfied with the way the money is allocated in the draft agreement. I would be inclined to not support the Conditional Use Permit unless the Chevron Refinery Modernization Project Environmental and Community Investment Agreement is modified.