Category Archives: Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)

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.
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    Shell Martinez moves to clean up its act; will NOT receive crude by rail

    Repost from The Martinez News Gazette
    [Editor: Unconfirmed reports suggest that the light, sweet crude delivered to Shell by ship will first be transported across Canada by rail.  – RS]

    Shell Martinez to shut down flexicoker, reduce green house gas emissions

    Rick Jones | May 18, 2014

    MARTINEZ, Calif. – In a major undertaking billed as the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Project,” Shell is proposing to upgrade and modernize its Martinez refinery to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water, improve efficiency, and stay relevant in the changing energy landscape, Shell representatives said Tuesday.

    In a presentation to the News-Gazette staff, Shell Martinez Refinery General Manager Paul Gabbard stated the renovated refinery will become “cleaner, safer and more efficient – with less impact on the environment and our community.”

    Also in attendance at the presentation was Steve Lesher, manager of communications and sustainable development; Teresa Makarewicz, health and safety director and Erin Hallissy, public affairs representative and communications.

    The $450 million upgrade project will allow Shell to refine more light, sweet crude oil. With current production and transportation methods, heavy crudes have a more severe environmental impact than light ones, the representatives said. Heavy crude refining techniques require more energy input than light crude.

    “In my view, in my career it’s rare when a project makes so much business sense and it makes environmental and community sense at the same time,” Gabbard said. “It’s a very nice marriage of what the world wants us to do and what we think we have to do anyway.”

    The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) requires businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Gabbard said this project gets the Shell Martinez Refinery on track for that goal.

    According to Shell, the project will cut greenhouse gas emissions at the refinery by 700,000 metric tons a year – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

    Water use at the refinery will be reduced by 15 percent, saving 1,000 gallons a minute.

    A significant environmental impact of heavy crude is carbon dioxide output, which can be as much as three times that of light crude of the same quantity.

    “The climate change, AB 32, required us to go more carbon friendly,” Gabbard explained. “It changes our business model. We’ve had this business model for 30 years and now we are going to change it up. What are we going to do for the next 50 years? It dovetails, in our view, to exactly what the world, state and community wants us to do.”

    The project will create over 300 temporary construction jobs for local workers represented by local trade unions, reps said.

    Major events conducted at the refinery where 1,500 workers are brought in for maintenance will go from four per year down to three per year, Gabbard pointed out.

    The refinery, which will mark its 100th year in Martinez in 2015, receives heavy crude which requires refinement that is heavy in carbon emissions.

    Gabbard said the plant will shut down the flexicoker, built in 1983, one of the major operating units in the facility. The ever-present blue flare from the coker’s column will no longer be seen.

    The modernization will cut sulfur dioxide emissions by up to 25 percent, with no increase in NOx (nitrogen oxide). Electricity use will decline, and the upgrade does not expand the refinery nor increase the amount of oil processed.

    “The amount of crude we bring in, the amount of product we send out, won’t change,” Gabbard said.

    What will change is the amount of crude being brought in by tankers. The pipeline from the Central Valley of California brings the heavy crude type; Shell has been receiving less and less from that source as the oil fields dry up. With the change to a lighter crude, the amount of crude coming to Martinez via pipeline will drop further.

    With the transport of crude by rail a significant issue in the East Bay, Gabbard was quick to say that Shell does not and will not receive crude by railway.

    “We are not going to [receive] rail crude, we are not building rail crude facilities,” Gabbard said. “There will be no crude rail unloading for Shell in Martinez.”

    The refinery’s physical footprint will decrease by eliminating a major processing unit. Due to higher assessed value, Shell’s property taxes will increase.

    The proposed project will go through full county review, including an Environmental Impact Review (EIR). On June 3, Shell will meet with the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to seek approval of the EIR consultant. Preliminary paperwork has already been submitted to the county. The hope is to conclude the permit process by May 2015.

    Construction could start mid-2016, with the project being completed by 2018.

    Shell anticipates using local labor for the project by mid-2015.

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