By Roger Straw, August 5, 2016
A letter by Kathy Kerridge appeared in the print edition of today’s Benicia Herald. Kerridge clarified statements made many times in recent months regarding Valero’s recent product output as approximately 65% of the refinery’s capacity.
The refinery does not disclose its current operating output, claiming that it is a trade secret. Kerridge discloses the source for the public knowledge on this.
First a little background: When Commissioner Steve Young questioned Valero executives at the Planning Commission hearing on Feb 8, the transcript has “(No audible response.)” See p. 184. And when Young asked Valero environmental engineer Don Cuffel about this at the Planning Commission on Feb 9, Cuffel’s response was clearly evasive – see page 49-50 of the transcript.
The significance, as Kerridge points out below, has everything to do with Valero’s ability to increase air pollution and even (if permitted) to expand its operations to overseas oil export, if the City were to approve Valero’s Crude by Rail proposal.
Kerridge’s letter follows. (I have added live links to the sources. I have also excised references to Benicia’s whack-a-mole critic, whose repetitive nonsense is not worth repeating on these pages.)
Letter to the Editor, Benicia Herald, by Kathy Kerridge
HERE IS A SOURCE
August 5, 2016
In last Sunday’s paper and in other recent letters [a critic] has been quite upset over the claim that Valero is operating at 65% capacity. He has repeatedly attacked [candidate for City Council] Steve Young over this and most recently attacked me demanding my source for the fact that Valero is operating at less than full capacity. Well here is the source: a report done by Applied Developments Economics, Inc. for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Here is a link to the report: Socio-Economic Analysis of Proposed Regulation 12, Rule 15: Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking and Regulation 12, Rule 16: Petroleum Refining Emissions Limits and Risk Thresholds. Look for Table 7 on page 15.
Applied Development Economics reported that Valero is refining 114,443 barrels of crude a day. Valero’s VIP permit in 2003 allowed for an annual average of 165,000 bpd, (with maximum daily permitted level set at 185,000 bpd.) Please see Valero’s permit for that. 114,444 divided by 165,000 equals 69%. Of course if you looked at the maximum daily capacity they are operating at 62% capacity. The average of the two is 65% just what Steve Young has been saying.
Why does this matter?
It matters because the Crude by Rail project will bring in heavy tar sands crude which emits much more reactive organic gases, more toxic air contaminates, benzene and heavy metal pollution. Bakken crude, which they also want to bring in could also result in more pollution. See the reports by Dr. Fox in response to the Crude by Rail DEIR filed 9-15-2014 and report by Greg Karras, senior scientist for CBE, filed 9-15-2014 with the city.
So if Valero operated at its permitted levels with more toxic crude we would see an increase in our local air pollution, particularly since there are no overall plant limits on these emissions at this time, and there may never be. This could cause real health impacts especially to students at Robert Semple school. The air district has been looking at this problem for several years and may never enact a numeric limit. Please see the Air District agendas for the last several years, proposed rule 12-16.
Let me add a few more words about accuracy. In a letter to the editor on July 5 [a critic] stated that Benicia’s opt out rate for Marin Clean Energy was “22% – three times higher than any other city.” He did not state a source. Given that in Benicia the opt out rate is 21% and the overall average for all cities opt out rate is 21%, according to Marin Clean Energy it appears that [the critic] has gotten his facts wrong. What else has he gotten wrong in his letters? I don’t have the time or energy to fact check every statement he makes, but I do look at the source.
Kathy Kerridge JD