Category Archives: Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)

Valero refinery in Benicia fined $122,500 for past air pollution violations

Repost from the Contra Costa Times
[Editor:  It takes the Air District over 3 years to “settle” with Valero for polluting our air?  In the past City officials have asked that these kinds of fines be redirected to the communities where the violations occur.  My understanding is that BAAQMD Executive Officer Jack Broadbent indicated he would consider it, but never took any action.  Seems the Air District wants to continue to use the fines for their own operations: “The penalty money will be used to fund air district inspections and enforcement actions.” – RS]

Valero refinery in Benicia to pay $122,500 in air pollution penalties

By Denis Cuff, 06/25/2015 12:49:50 PM PDT
Valero Refinery, Benicia, California

BENICIA — The Valero oil refinery has agreed to pay $122,500 in civil penalties for air pollution violations during 2011, clean air regulators announced Thursday.

The settlement between Valero and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District covers 25 notices of violations, including one over odors at the refinery wastewater treatment plant.

Another 14 violations concerned excessive pollution detected by monitors at the Benicia plant, officials said.

“Violations of air quality regulations, no mater how minor, must be addressed and refineries held accountable,” Jack Broadbent, the air pollution district chief, said.

The penalty money will be used to fund air district inspections and enforcement actions.

The air district regulates stationary air pollution sources in the nine Bay Area counties.

Richmond councilman: Don’t let industry dominate debate – Residents should demand clean air

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle

Richmond councilman: Don’t let industry dominate debate

Residents should demand clean air

By Eduardo Martinez, Open Forum, March 26, 2015

As host to one of the biggest petroleum refineries in California, Richmond needs its residents to remain vigilant. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is considering new refinery regulations that would require Chevron to disclose and measure the toxic emissions of its Richmond refinery and reduce them if they rise above stipulated limits, as has often occurred in the past. The air district held public workshops last week in Richmond, Martinez, Benicia and San Francisco. I urge concerned citizens to submit additional comments to the district before its March 27 deadline.

We need citizens to stand up because Big Oil doesn’t give up. The oil industry is spending tens of millions of dollars to derail our state’s landmark climate-change law, AB32. And it’s using some of the same sneaky tactics that Chevron deployed against me when I ran for Richmond City Council. Telling the truth is too risky, I guess: The vast majority of Californians want clean air and a livable climate.

Chevron, the oil giant that ranks by assets as the 18th biggest company in the world according to Forbes, spent some $3 million on advertising against me and other candidates when we ran in November’s election.

Despite being outspent by 20 to 1, my team and I fought back with a grassroots campaign that showed how people power still can triumph over big money. And I can tell you, standing up to a bully feels good, especially when you win.

The industry’s battle plan was revealed in a slide deck prepared by its lobbying arm, the Western States Petroleum Association, which was leaked to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Instead of engaging in open public debate about clean energy and climate progress, the association has created and funded front groups that appear to consist of ordinary people — who just happen to share the industry’s point of view.

Oil companies also invoked the bogeyman of higher taxes. “Stop the Hidden Gas Tax” proclaimed countless billboards, TV and radio ads for weeks before Jan. 1, 2015, the day transportation fuels came under the AB32 emissions cap.

There was no hidden tax. Nor has the industry’s broader claim — that AB32 would weaken California’s economy and drive away businesses — proved true. In fact, California’s economy has grown since AB32 began. We have the largest advanced energy industry in the United States, employing more than 430,000 workers, and the Golden State’s manufacturing sector leads the nation in total output. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that California vaulted over Texas as the state with the largest job growth during the past year. All this growth — and our per capita carbon emissions have dropped 17 percent since 1990.

To be sure, this increased prosperity still hasn’t reached all Californians. But the solution is not to gut our clean air laws; it is to accelerate our development of renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency — labor-intensive activities that employ more people than drilling for oil and gas.

We need to keep shining a light on the activities of opponents to clean energy.

As a resident and public official in Richmond, I care about petroleum use for another reason as well. In 2012, an explosion at Chevron’s Richmond refinery led some 15,000 people to seek hospital treatment. The refinery’s typical emissions also take a terrible toll, as I witnessed during my 18 years as an elementary school teacher. So many students were afflicted with asthma that our school founded an Asthma Club to help kids, teachers and parents cope. That should not be.

Californians deserve clean air, a stable climate and public policy that prioritizes those goals. We should strengthen, not weaken, AB32. Tell the air district that.

Eduardo Martinez serves on the Richmond City Council.

Bay Area Air Board emissions plan draws response from Valero

Repost from The Benicia Herald
[Editor: The Benicia Herald is one of very few news outlets to cover the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s far-reaching  and highly significant December 17 initiative on refinery emissions.  The first Herald article just covered the facts, and oddly, is not posted on the Herald’s website.  As a follow-up to that story, our local newspaper either sought out comments from the Refinery or responded to Valero’s overture, not sure which.  Either way, we were treated on Christmas Eve to a front page Valero Benicia promotion of its wondrous efforts to control its emissions, and the supposedly small part Bay Area refineries play in contributing to greenhouse gases.  Note especially Valero’s resolve to “participate in any new rulemaking to ensure rules are reasonable and cost effective.”   Reasonable rules would surely protect community health and safety, no?  And according to whose costs should regulatory effectiveness be weighed?   For other reports on the Air District initiative, see The Contra Costa Times, and the Oil & Gas Journal. See also primary documents: BAAQMD 12/17 agenda, (p. 73), and  REPORT: Bay Area Refinery Emissions Reduction Strategy (PDF) .  – RS]

Emissions plan draws response from Valero

Refinery official: ‘Proud’ to contribute to better air quality
By Donna Beth Weilenman, December 24, 2014

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is hoping its new five-component strategy will reduce emissions from refineries in it geographic area.

The district’s Refinery Emissions Reduction Resolution, approved Oct. 15, sets a goal of 20-percent reduction in refinery emissions — or as much as is feasible — during the next five years.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.

The announced strategy would show the Air District how to achieve that goal.

“Our new Refinery Emissions Reduction Strategy continues and reaffirms the air district’s commitment to significantly decrease harmful air pollution in our communities,” said Jack Broadbent, the district’s executive officer.

“This strategy will ensure that refineries are taking the strongest steps to cut emissions and minimize their health impacts on neighboring residents and the region as a whole.”

But refineries are just one industry that contributes to the San Francisco Bay Area’s air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, according to an official at Valero Benicia Refinery.

“By the district’s own data, Bay Area refineries make up only a small segment of overall emissions in the Bay Area air shed,” said Chris Howe, the refinery’s director of health, safety, environment and government affairs.

“These emissions have continued to decline over the last two decades,” Howe said, data which the Air District also acknowledged.

“We are proud of the significant contributions our refinery has made and will continue to make to improve air quality, especially with the installation of our flue gas scrubber in 2011,” Howe said, citing a major component of the Valero Improvement Project.

In addition, he said, “We will continue to participate in any new rulemaking to ensure rules are reasonable and cost effective when weighed against the many options the district has to regulate emissions in our air basin.”

Broadbent said the Air District’s announced strategy sets overall goals of a 20-percent reduction in both criteria pollutants from refineries and in health risks to area communities, both within the next five years. That is the strategy’s first component.

To do this, the Air District plans to investigate significant sources of those pollutants at the refineries themselves, and to examine a variety of additional pollution controls at those sources, he said. That’s the second component.

He said this would be done under the district’s focused Best Available Retrofit Control Technology program.

“Rulemaking is already under way to reduce sulfur dioxide from coke calciners and particulate matter from catalytic cracking units,” Broadbent said.

“Several other rules to reduce refinery emissions will be developed in 2015.”

The strategy’s third component would be the Air District’s approach to reduce health risks from toxic air pollution, Broadbent said.

He said it would begin with requirements to reduce toxic emissions from such refinery sources as cooling towers and coking units.

Site-wide health risks would be assessed, and sources for further emissions controls would be identified, with an eye toward health benefits, he said.

A fourth component would be evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions at the refineries and their reductions as a result of the cap-and-trade system put in place under Assembly Bill 32.

That bill, signed into law Sept. 27, 2006, requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

CARB adopted a cap-and-trade program Dec. 17, 2010, allowing some emitters to buy credits at quarterly auctions for additional emissions.

Under the Air District’s strategy, refinery performance would be compared to third-party standards for best practices, with analysis of potential further opportunities for reductions, Broadbent said.

The fifth component concerns continuous improvement in emission reductions, for which refinery operators would be required on a periodic basis to evaluate the sources of most of their emissions to determine if more controls are needed.

Broadbent said the Air District would develop its package of rules in the coming year, and would be working with members of the public as well as refinery industry representatives to make any modifications in the proposed rules and to use the strategy to reach those stated goals.

In addition, the Air District will prepare its Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking rule that requires updated health risk assessments, additional fence-line and neighborhood monitoring capacity and the compiling of an annual emissions inventory.

Simultaneously, the Air District will write a companion rule to set emissions thresholds and mitigate potential increases at refineries, Broadbent said.

Those rules are expected to be sent to the Air District’s board for adoption in 2015.

The San Francisco Bay Area’s five major oil refineries, including Valero Benicia Refinery, produce air pollution and greenhouse gases in the region, Broadbent said, and “these are already subject to more than 20 specific Air District regulations and programs, and their overall emissions have been steadily decreasing.”

The Air District’s website is www.baaqmd.gov.

Industry perspective: BAAQMD advances plan to reduce refinery emissions

Repost from Oil & Gas Journal
[Editor: Good summary of details in the BAAQMD’s Dec. 17 vote.  See also primary documents: BAAQMD 12/17 agenda, (p. 73), and  REPORT: Bay Area Refinery Emissions Reduction Strategy (PDF)  – RS]

California Bay Area advances plan for enhanced refinery regulations

By Robert Brelsford, OGJ Downstream Technology Editor, 12/19/2014

California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the public agency responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in the nine counties that surround San Francisco Bay, is moving forward with its plan to impose further emissions cuts on area refiners within the next 5 years.

BAAQMD’s board of directors unanimously voted on Dec. 17 to adopt the proposed emissions reduction strategy, which sets a goal of reducing refinery emissions by 20%, or as much as feasible, by 2020.

Adoption of the heightened emissions-control strategy follows BAAQMD’s October resolution (OGJ Online, Oct. 21, 2014) directing its staff to determine the best way to decrease emissions from area refineries by evaluating a range of approaches against a variety of factors such as reductions of “criteria pollutants” (pollutants for which air quality standards have been established), toxics,  and greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as impacts on neighboring communities, the agency said in a statement.

“Our new refinery emissions reduction strategy continues and reaffirms [BAAQMD’s] commitment to significantly decrease harmful air pollution in our communities,” said Jack Broadbent, BAAQMD’s executive officer.

“This strategy will ensure that refineries are taking the strongest steps to cut emissions and minimize their health impacts on neighboring residents and the region as a whole,” according to Broadbent.

Implementation of the emissions reduction strategy will involve ongoing work with community and industry participants during 2015 to develop and refine a package of proposed associated rules, BAAQMD said.

As part of the approved strategy, the agency said it will continue preparation of its proposed Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule (PRET), which would require refiners to provide updated health risk assessments (HRAs), install additional fence-line and neighborhood monitoring capacity, and compile annual emission inventories.

Preparation of a “companion rule” to PRET also remains under way, according to BAAQMD.

Earlier billed by the industry as another iteration of the “baseline rule” removed from a previous draft version of PRET amid a series of legal challenges under California law, the proposed “companion rule” would set emissions thresholds as well as mitigate potential emissions increases from area refineries.

The agency plans to present a final set of proposed rules to BAAQMD’s board of directors sometime in 2015.

While Bay Area’s five refiners plan to continue actively collaborating with BAAQMD on its emissions-reduction strategy, the agency’s goals may be a bit too ambitious within the proposed timeframe, according to the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).

“The Bay Area refineries will constructively participate in the strategy’s rule making,” Guy Bjerke, WSPA’s Bay Area region manager, told OGJ.

“Our main concern with the strategy is the 20% reduction by 2020 goal which, given historic reductions over the past 10 years, are likely unachievable and impractical in just 5 years,” Bjerke said.

BAAQMD’s proposed strategy

To achieve its overall goal of a 20% emissions reduction from refineries alongside a 20% reduction in health risks to local communities over the next 5 years, the proposed strategy includes the following components:

• Reduction of criteria pollutants. Under a focused best available retrofit control technology (BARCT) program, BAAQMD will investigate  significant sources at refineries and pursue a variety of additional pollution controls at these sources. Rulemaking is already underway to reduce sulfur dioxide from coke calciners and particulate matter from catalytic cracking units. Several other rules to reduce refinery emissions also will be developed in 2015.

• Reduction of health risks from toxic air pollution. This approach will begin with requirements to reduce toxic emissions from key refinery sources such as cooling towers and coking units. The focused toxics approach will also include site-wide HRAs and the identification of sources for further emission controls, using health benefits as an important evaluative tool.

• Evaluation of GHG emissions. Under this approach, BAAQMD would track emission reductions at refineries incurred as a result of the cap-and-trade system under California’s AB 32 climate law, which requires the state to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Refinery performance would be compared to third-party standards for best practices, with analysis of potential further opportunities for reductions.

• Continuous improvement. To ensure continuous improvement in emission reductions, refiners will be required to periodically evaluate the sources of the majority of their emissions in order to determine if additional pollution controls are needed.

BAAQMD previously acknowledged that overall emissions from the region’s five refineries, which already are subject to more than 20 specific agency regulations and programs, have been steadily decreasing.