Category Archives: Chevron Refinery

SF Chronicle opinion: Mayors urge governor to end fossil fuel production in California

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle

Mayors urge governor to end fossil fuel production in California

By Elizabeth Patterson and Melvin Willis, Aug. 24, 2018 3:31 p.m.
FILE – This March 9, 2010, file photo shows a tanker truck passing the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, Calif. A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that received widespread attention has thrown …

As San Francisco prepares to host Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic Global Climate Action Summit in September, we, the San Francisco Bay Area mayors of cities impacted by the toxic consequences of fossil fuel production, are standing with elected representatives from frontline communities and throughout California in calling on the governor to phase out fossil fuel production.

Benicia and Richmond both face the toxic consequences of California’s complicity in one of the most toxic, polluting, dangerous industries on Earth and the primary driver of climate change: the oil and gas industry.

Benicia is home to the Valero oil refinery, and our residents are regularly exposed to emissions during standard operations. In May 2017, a power outage sent flames, heavy black smoke and toxic gases spewing into the air for two straight weeks. Among the pollutants were nearly 80,000 pounds of toxic sulfur dioxide — five years’ worth of “normal” emissions — and carbonyl sulfide, a highly toxic and extremely flammable gas. Accidents are only the most visible of the toxic pollution that impacts our public health, day after day. Our asthma rates are three times the state average.

The Valero refinery in Bencia,Ca., as seen on Tuesday June 20, 2017. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Wednesday is expected to approve the nation’s first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from …

The Texas-based petroleum giant’s Benicia refinery employs 480 people and supplies nearly a quarter of our city’s tax revenue, but at what cost?

When Valero proposed a crude-by-rail project to bring 70,000 barrels of tar sands and Bakken crude oil per day by rail through the Sierra, Sacramento and Davis to Benicia, our residents resisted, and our small, historic town stood up to our biggest employer and taxpayer. After three years of environmental review, national attention and a failed effort by Valero to get the federal government involved, the City Council voted unanimously against it.

Farther south on San Francisco Bay is Richmond, one of the poorest communities in the Bay Area. Our city of largely Hispanic, African American and Asian residents fought against toxic industrial pollution from Chevron’s Richmond refinery that processes 250,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Chevron is our largest employer and taxpayer. Nonetheless, our community has risen up, defeating Chevron-backed candidates in 2014 that outspent us 5 to 1 in our local election, and elected true champions for our community. Richmond forced major environmental conditions on Chevron as it expands the refinery and strengthened our Industrial Safety Ordinance in response to the refinery’s toxic explosion and fire in 2012 that sent 15,000 residents to seek medical treatment.

Toxic pollution isn’t the only threat we face. With 32 miles of shoreline, more than any other city on San Francisco Bay, Richmond is at extreme risk from sea level rise that will soon cost our community far more than we can afford. So, Richmond, home to an oil giant, became the ninth city in less than a year to bring major fossil fuel companies to court over climate change. We filed a lawsuit against 29 oil, gas and coal companies — including Chevron, along with BP and Exxon — to hold them accountable for their role in climate change and its impacts on the community.

The fossil fuel industry’s business plan is destroying not only our health and communities, but also the survival of our species.

Yet, under Gov. Jerry Brown, the state of California has not only tolerated the fossil fuel industry, but expanded it — granting permits for drilling 20,000 new oil wells.

The Bay Area has had enough of this climate hypocrisy. It is wrong to make communities sick. As one of the top oil-producing states, it is time to bring the fossil fuel era to an end.

While our small towns have the courage to stand up to a billion-dollar fossil fuel industry to protect our public health and climate, why hasn’t Brown?

On the toxic front lines of climate change, we stand with 150 local elected officials from a majority of counties in California that are taking bold steps to stop fossil fuels. We all are urging Brown to make a plan to phase out oil and gas production in California, to clean up our cities, towns and agricultural lands, and protect our people.

If our cities can say “no” to expanding fossil fuels, Gov. Brown, you can, too — and we’ll have your back.

Elizabeth Patterson is mayor of Benicia. Melvin Willis is vice mayor of Richmond.

    Local and Ecuador leaders protest at Chevron in Richmond

    Press Release from AmazonWatch

    Bay Area environmental and indigenous organizations join protest to call attention to Chevron’s key role in causing destruction to people and planet

    MAY 17, 2018, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Tell Amazon.com to Protect the Real Amazon!
    AMAZON WATCH

    Richmond, CA – Indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon joined Bay Area allies at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery on Thursday morning to call on California’s political leadership to phase out oil and gas production and processing in the state, including its importation of crude oil drilled in the Amazon rainforest.


    For more information contact:
    Moira Birss 1.510.394.2041 moira@amazonwatch.org
    Zoë Cina-Sklar 1.510.671.1878 zoe@amazonwatch.org
    Interviews, photos, and more information available upon request


    Gloria Ushigua and Manari Ushigua, leaders of the Sapara people, called attention to the impacts that the fossil fuel economy – including Chevron’s key role in causing destruction to people and planet. In addition to Chevron’s toxic legacy in Ecuador, the Sapara leaders and allies from Communities for a Better Environment, Green Action, and Bay Area indigenous-led organization Idle No More SF Bay outlined how California’s oil and gas extraction and processing is harming communities from the Ecuadorian Amazon to Richmond, California.

    The Sapara Nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon is recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” because their language and culture are in danger of disappearing. There are about 500 Sapara people still living in their ancestral home, a large territory that is a critical part of the Amazonian ecosystem. However, Sapara territory – and the Sapara themselves – are in serious danger from oil drilling planned for two oil blocks that overlap with approximately 500,000 acres of their ancestral territory.

    Chevron refineries throughout California are the largest purchasers and processors of crude oil imported from the Amazon rainforest, as well as one of the state’s biggest overall polluters. A 2017 Amazon Watch report demonstrated that half of crude oil exports from the Western Amazon come to California, adding to the toxic impact of the California’s fossil fuel production and refining industry.

    Manari Ushigua Santi, Sapara Nation, said: “The possibility of oil drilling in our territory – something the Ecuadorian government is pushing – could be the end of the Sapara people, and certainly an end to our strong connection with the forest. After all, there are few of us, and we have seen the deforestation and cultural destruction already caused by oil drilling in other parts of the Amazon. Now that we know about the link between oil from the Amazon and California refineries, we know that the state government’s continued support of the oil industry also puts us and other peoples of the Amazon in danger.

    Gloria Ushigua Santi, Sapara Nation, said: “We are all fighting for our survival, to protect our little pieces of land. I have seen how destructive the fossil fuel industry is for California’s own communities. I don’t want our land to become polluted, like this land by the refinery. We call on California’s leadership to move quickly from an unsustainable reliance on a fossil fuel economy to a sustainable one based on renewable energy. Anything less puts the Sapara, the Amazon and other Amazonian indigenous peoples, California communities, and our entire global climate in danger.”

    Isabella Zizi, Idle No More SF Bay, said: “It’s important to be here today because it shows that the very resistance starts in our own backyards. It makes a direct connection to what is happening down in the Ecuadorian Amazon with our indigenous brothers and sisters and our relatives down there who are facing the same destruction and harms to their own people and that we can come together and unite and make change together and stand up to Big Oil.”

    Andrés Soto, Communities for a Better Environment, said: “I’m here today representing Communities for a Better Environment with our ongoing solidarity with Amazon Watch and the advocacy that connects the extractive activities in Ecuador directly to the refining activities in Richmond and the commonalities of not only health impacts but also political corruption. We need to link our resistance because we’re dealing with transnational corporations and so we also need to have a transnational resistance.”

    Leila Salazar-López, Amazon Watch Executive Director, said: “Continued oil and gas extraction in California – both on land and offshore – and its imports of Amazon crude is a significant obstacle to doing what science says must be done to prevent the worst outcomes from climate change: keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

      California attorney general subpoenas oil refiners

      Repost from SFGate
      [Editor:  See also coverage in Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.  – RS]

      California attorney general subpoenas refiners on gas prices

      Associated Press, Updated 2:57 pm, Friday, July 1, 2016

      The California attorney general has issued subpoenas to several oil refiners to learn how they set gasoline prices, which are consistently higher in California than in most other states.

      Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. confirmed on Thursday that they have received subpoenas in recent weeks.

      The attorney general is making a sweeping request for information about gasoline supplies, pricing, and maintenance shutdowns that can temporarily create shortages and increase prices, according to people familiar with the investigation. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the subpoenas.

      The requests came from Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate. Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for Harris, declined to comment on whether her office was investigating.

      Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said the company received a subpoena from the attorney general’s office and would cooperate with the investigation.

      Valero received a subpoena “and we will respond accordingly,” said spokeswoman Lillian Riojas.

      Spokesmen for Exxon and Tesoro also confirmed the requests for information. None of the companies would discuss the matter further.

      California perennially has among the nation’s highest prices for gasoline. This week, the average for a gallon of regular was $2.90 in the state compared with the national average of $2.29, according to the AAA auto club.

      Some consumer advocates have charged that refiners drive prices higher by tactics such as frequent or overly long plant shutdowns.
      Refineries are routinely taken offline for maintenance, and there have been longer-lasting outages after disasters such as the explosion in February 2015 at an Exxon refinery in Torrance, near Los Angeles.

      Gordon Schremp, senior fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission, said 2015 saw an “extraordinary price spike in magnitude and duration in California,” which a commission advisory committee has been investigating.

      “We are aware that they were doing this,” Schremp said of the attorney general’s investigation, “because off and on they’ve talked to us about what was going on with the 2015 market, important factors that can cause spikes in the markets.”

      Industry officials blame high prices on California’s stricter clean-air requirements, which they say add costs and make it more difficult to import gasoline from other states when there is a price spike.
      Rebecca Adler, a spokeswoman for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, called the allegations in the subpoenas baseless.

      “We are confident that nothing will come of this,” she said.

      The group Consumer Watchdog has repeatedly called on Harris to investigate oil companies over California gas prices and welcomed news of the investigation.

      “It’s great that we have a law enforcement official asking questions about both supplying the market and equitable pricing within the market,” said the group’s president, Jamie Court.