Category Archives: Valero Benicia Refinery

Valero PAC – Expenditures of over $135,000 Sept 20 to Oct 17, now over $200K for the year

By Roger Straw, October 23, 2020

Valero Refinery’s commercial PAC, which is out to buy Benicia’s mayor’s seat in our 2020 election, filed its latest income and expenditure reports yesterday.

The reports are required by law and cover the period September 20 to October 17, as well as totals for 2020.

Form_460_Pre_Election_2.pdf shows income of $25,000 for the period, cash payments of $63,844 and unpaid bills of $71,275.  The form shows an ending balance of $173,779 as of October 17.

INCOME for the period September 20 to October 17
This period Year to date
Monetary Contributions (International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, forgers & Helpers Local 549) $25,000 $25,000
Total Contributions $25,000 $25,000
EXPENSES for the period September 20 to October 17
This period Year to date
Cash payments $63,844 $99,333
Accrued, unpaid bills $71,275 $101,567
TOTAL EXPENDITURES $135,119 $200,899
Current Cash Statement
Beginning Balance $212,623
Cash receipts $25,000
Cash payments $63,844
Ending Balance $173,779

The Valero PAC’s Form_465_2.pdf is a Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.  This very important form carries detailed individual payments made to named companies for mailers, Facebook and other digital ads,  live phone calls and robocalls.  I must apologize for not presenting the information here.  The form is complicated, seems to overlap with previous reports, doesn’t total up accurately as far as I can tell, and so can’t be properly interpreted here.  Suffice to say, Valero has been busy spending tons of money to pick up the Benicia Mayor’s seat.  Check out their Form_465_2 on the City of Benicia website for details.

Letter from Benicia’s Marilyn Bardet to BAAQMD: Must enforce refinery air monitor requirements

Copy of Marilyn Bardet’s letter, forcefully asking the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to follow through on promised enforcement of refinery air monitoring standards


Marilyn Bardet

From: Marilyn Bardet <email>
Subject: BAAQMD oversight/enforcement of Reg 12 – Rule 15, the Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule.
Date: October 21, 2020 at 3:37:37 PM PDT
To: Marcy Hiratzka <email@baaqmd.gov>

October 21, 2020

BAAQMD Board of Directors
Chair: Council member Rod Sinks, City of Cupertino
Vice Chair: Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County
Secretary: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff,  Contra Costa County

Sent via email:  <email@baaqmd.gov>

Subject:    BAAQMD oversight and enforcement of Regulation 12 – Rule 15, the Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule.

Dear Chair Rod Sinks, Vice Chair Cindy Chaves, Secretary Karen Mitchoff and Direrctors

I’m writing  as a 34-year resident of Benicia and a founding active member of the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, [“GNSC”] which was organized in 2000 to address public concerns and protect community health and safety as related to operations of the Valero refinery. I’d hope to express the following concerns at the Special Meeting held as a webinar today, but was unable to do so.

On August 1st, the Board received emailed letters from Jay Gunkelman and myself, outlining problems to date with refineries’ fenceline monitoring systems’ performance and reliability.

As you recall, Rule 15 was adopted in April, 2016. It required Bay Area refineries to install new, best technology fenceline monitoring systems, with raw data to be collected in real time at 5 minute intervals, and with a website provided for public access to that data.

After 4 years since Rule 15’s adoption, for the sake of public health and community safety, we would have expected by now that the Air District would have enforced standards for reliable performance of fenceline monitoring systems at all Bay Area refineries, and that data quality would be assured. Yet, to date, as per Rule 15 protocols, the District has not yet signed off on—e.g., given final approval of— the refineries’ fenceline monitoring and quality assurance plans. This is an unacceptable situation.

Today, we encourage the board and staff to fully address the various problems associated to Rule 15’s implementation at all Bay Area refineries. 

Pertinent to the Benicia community, Valero recently asserted that their Benicia refinery will be “the last man standing” among Bay Are refineries, and will continue to refine crude oil and produce petroleum products. Emissions tracking and fenceline monitoring will continue to be of particular concern to Benicians. The reliability of Valero’s fenceline systems’ performance is in serious doubt. 

In 2017, as per Rule 15 Guidelines, the GNSC submitted substantial comments to the District on Valero’s plans that had been created by Sonoma Tech for Valero.

In late 2019, the Benicia City Council voted to encourage Valero to get their fenceline systems installed and up and running before the District’s original deadline. Valero complied, installing 3 pathway systems and creating a public website to provide access to the data collected. Later, when public questions began to arise, Valero said that the new Hydrogen Sulfide monitoring system they’d purchased had never been field tested. After a year’s worth of data collection, data reliability remains questionable even for “signature” gases, including benzene. According to the Federal EPA’s Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Program, Valero’s benzene emissions were not only found to be the highest in the Bay Area; Valero’s total benzene emissions are four times greater than the four other refineries in the region.

It is implausible that there would be so few reportable detections, as the website routinely reports. Repeatedly, the website indicates that instruments are offline, or data is “pending final review.” Whose review? There is apparently no public access to archived data. Good science requires independent validation of data. Credibility of the systems and the data collection is at stake. Without independent review, public confusion and doubt about the sytems’ reliability will persist.

Right now, there is no independent, 3rd party data analysis required by the Air District. Yet verification of data for accuracy is crucial to public trustUnfortunately, in our casethe District has still not yet approved Valero’s fenceline monitoring system plan including the required quality assurance plan as mandated by Rule 12-15.

In the meantime, concerned Benicia residents formed a non-profit, incorporated in 2019, to provide an independently operated, community-based air-monitoring station for Benicia, called Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program. The system will be operated by solar, and will meet international standards for data quality. (Funding was appropriated through GNSC’s urging amendments to the  Settlement Agreement negotiated with Valero and City of Benicia.) We expect the new station will be operational by the end of 2020.

How is it possible that a small community group in Benicia can locate, configure and install an array of air monitoring equipment in less than a year, while the refineries in the Bay Area are still installing technologically inferior fenceline systems four years after they were told by the BAAQMD that these systems had to be approved and proven reliable, thus producing accurate data by now? 

I reiterate my request made in my letter of August 1st: 

We ask the Board to compel Valero to present all of the data associated with these systems to the public as soon as possible. In addition, we would like to see all raw data produced by the fenceline system at Valero so that it can be reviewed by independent experts. We ask that the  public have access to all District staff comments on refineries’ monitoring plans including quality assurance plans.

Thank you for your timely consideration of these matters.

Respectfully,

Marilyn Bardet
Benicia CA 94510

City of Benicia now posting copies of Valero PAC ads and phone scripts

Now available on the City of Benicia website: pictures of Valero’s disgusting ads, copies of robocall messages, and the phone scripts used by live callers

In emails on Tuesday with City of Benicia officials, the Benicia Independent confirmed that Benicia’s campaign finance ordinance requires independent expenditure committees like the Valero PAC to submit for public review copies of the literature and scripts used in their promotions.

“An independent expenditure committee that makes an expenditure for 200 or more recorded telephone calls or any other forms of electronic or facsimile transmission of substantially similar content, or that makes an expenditure of $1,000 or more for a radio or television advertisement, or that mails or otherwise distributes more than 200 substantially similar pieces of campaign literature in support of or opposition to any candidate for mayor or city council, shall give a copy of the literature or script used for each communication to the city clerk within 24 hours of the first time the mailings, calls, transmissions, or advertisements are made or aired.” (Benicia Municipal Ordinance 1.40.110).

Valero has been submitting these copies, but until now the City had inadvertently not been posting them along with the required financial forms.

The City quickly amended previous postings of Valero’s financial disclosure reports to include photocopies and scripts used to promote their candidate for Mayor and to run down mayoral candidate Steve Young.  If you have the stomach for it, head over to our VALERO PAC FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES page.  (Note that the first four documents do not have any such attachments.)

Valero PAC – Those 2 new mailers: $9,844 …and $11,000 more for ROBOCALLS

By Roger Straw, October 20, 2020

Valero PAC spending for purchase of the Benicia Mayor seat now at $91,688

VALERO’s sick attempt to buy the Benicia Mayor seat has disclosed it’s latest expenditures:

  • $11,000 for more ROBOCALLS
  • $9,844 for 2 recent ugly campaign mailers

In emails earlier today with the City of Benicia, the Benicia Independent confirmed that Benicia’s campaign finance ordinance requires the Valero PAC to submit for public review copies “of the literature or script used for each communication to the city clerk within 24 hours of the first time the mailings, calls, transmissions, or advertisements are made or aired.” (Benicia Municipal Ordinance 1.40.110).

The City posting of Valero’s newest report does indeed include photocopies and ROBOCALL scripts.  If you have the stomach for it, see Working_Families_for_a_Strong_Benicia_496_7.

The City of Benicia will be revising previously posted campaign financial reports that were posted without the required photocopies and scripts.  Stay tuned for links.


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