Category Archives: Communities For A Better Environment (CBE)

Enviros Sue California State Lands Commission Over Tesoro Terminal Lease

Repost from Law360

Enviros Sue Calif. Land Agency Over Tesoro Terminal Lease

By Juan Carlos Rodriguez, April 20, 2015, 5:59 PM ET

New York — Two environmental groups on Friday sued the California State Lands Commission for allegedly renewing Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co.’s lease at an oil receiving facility near San Francisco bay without adequately considering the business’ impacts on the surrounding area.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for A Better Environment alleged the CSLC violated the California Environmental Quality Act in March when it renewed the 30-year lease for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal. The CSLC’s Final Environmental Impact Report was faulty for a variety of reasons, including that it doesn’t specify what kind of oil will be imported to the terminal, the petition for a writ of mandate said.

It said the Avon Terminal imports crude oil feedstocks to Tesoro’s nearby Golden Eagle Refinery and exports refined petroleum products, like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

“The EIR for the Avon Terminal fails as an informational document as it is conspicuously silent about the types of crude oil feedstocks that will be handled at the terminal and the additional risks that may be created by Tesoro’s plans to process lower quality and heavy crudes at the Golden Eagle Refinery,” the petition said.

It said that Tesoro plans to process increasing quantities of lower quality crude oil feedstocks at the Golden Eagle Refinery, including Bakken crude. The environmental groups said transporting and processing Bakken crude creates numerous health and safety risks because it’s highly volatile and is dirtier than most other crude feedstocks, releasing high levels of benzene, volatile organic compounds, and toxic air contaminants when processed.

The Avon Terminal EIR is deficient in other ways as well, according to the groups. They said that in analyzing the environmental effects of renewing the Avon Terminal lease, the EIR considers only the Avon Terminal’s effects and fails to consider the combined effects of Tesoro’s integrated facilities, including those of the refinery and another nearby terminal.

“This artificial isolation of the Avon Terminal improperly masks the full extent of the effects of Tesoro’s integrated refinery operations,” the petition said.

The EIR also underestimates the annual number of ships that will dock at the relicensed Avon Terminal over its thirty-year lease, resulting in an underestimation of the air, water, wildlife, and other impacts of the Avon Terminal’s future operations, according to the petition.

“As a result of these and related deficiencies, the EIR fails to fully inform the public and decision-makers of the project’s significant health, safety, and environmental impacts and fails to analyze and mitigate these impacts as the California Environmental Quality Act requires,” the petition said.

Contra Costa County hosts four of the five major petroleum refineries in northern California, and the fifth is nearby, the petition said, making it the second largest refining center in the western U.S. It said residents in the area suffer from high rates of asthma and many are ill-equipped to deal with these burdens, as more than half the residents are low-income minorities.

“Tesoro’s operations also affect wildlife. The project area provides habitat for state and federally listed species, such as coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead; delta smelt; green sturgeon; black and Ridgway’s rails; salt marsh harvest mouse; and three endangered plant species,” the petition said.

The environmental groups are asking the CSLC to void the EIR for the Avon Terminal lease approval; set aside and withdraw approvals of the project; and refrain from granting any further approvals for the Avon Terminal lease approval until the commission complies fully with the requirements of CEQA.

The CSLC declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Irene V. Gutierrez and Trent W. Orr of Earthjustice and Roger Lin.

Counsel information for the CSLC was not available Monday.

The case is Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. California State Lands Commission, number 15-0569 in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Contra Costa.

–Editing by Emily Kokoll.

Communities for a Better Environment sues Contra Costa County and Phillips 66

Repost from The Contra Costa Times

Rodeo refinery project subject of legal challenge

By Tom Lochner, 03/04/2015 11:37:08 AM PST

MARTINEZ — An environmental group has sued Contra Costa County over its approval of a propane and butane recovery project at a Rodeo refinery, contending it is a piece of a grander plan to process heavy, dirty tar sands crude that would come to California by rail.

Phillips 66, which owns the Rodeo refinery and another refinery near Santa Maria, in San Luis Obispo County, is a co-defendant in the suit, filed Wednesday in Contra Costa Superior Court in Martinez by Communities for a Better Environment. The two refineries together constitute the two-part San Francisco Refinery, according to the Phillips 66 website.

“Phillips 66 cannot meet its propane recovery objective without switching to a lower quality feedstock, like tar sands, and without other Phillips 66 projects to assist in that overall switch,” CBE attorney Roger Lin said in a news release.

CBE has said that the refinery, with the acquiescence of authorities, seeks to “piecemeal” what the environmental group describes as “a tar sands refining project that could worsen pollution, climate, and refinery and rail explosion hazards.” The environmental impact report, CBE contends, “hid the project from the public and failed to mitigate its significant environmental impacts.”

A rail spur project at the Santa Maria refinery, designed to receive about five trains a week, each with about 80 tank cars of crude oil, is under review by San Luis Obispo County.

The trains could arrive at Santa Maria from the south, via the Los Angeles basin, or the north, possibly along the shores of San Pablo and San Francisco bays and through San Jose.

Crude oil is partially refined at the Santa Maria refinery, then sent on to Rodeo via a 200-mile pipeline.

Phillips 66 spokesman Paul Adler said Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors got it right on Feb. 3 and that its decision “will help ensure the long-term viability of the Rodeo Refinery and the many jobs it provides.”

“Our plans for this project reflect our company’s commitment to operational excellence and safety while enhancing the competitiveness of the facility,” Adler said in an email.

“Following two years of careful analysis by the Contra Costa County board and its expert staff, claims that this project is a crude by rail project were dismissed,” Adler added. “Continued allegations by Communities for a Better Environment that this is a crude-by-rail project are inaccurate and misleading.”

Officials at County Counsel Sharon Anderson’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Along with the Rodeo project’s environmental impact report, the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 3 rejected two appeals of a November 2013 county Planning Commission-approved use permit for the project. The appellants were CBE and the law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger on behalf of the Rodeo Citizens Association. The board vote was 4-1, with Supervisor John Gioia voting no.

The Rodeo project calls for installation of new equipment to recover and sell propane and butane instead of burning it as fuel at the refinery or flaring off excesses.

Phillips 66 has said the project would reduce emissions of several pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, partly by using cleaner-burning natural gas as refinery fuel and because sulfur would be extracted to prepare the propane and butane for sale.

The new equipment would include a hydrotreater, six storage vessels and two new rail spurs related to shipping the recovered propane and butane out of the refinery in tank cars.

Lawsuit filed to Stop Tar Sands in the Bay Area

Reposted from Communities For a Better Environment

Lawsuit filed TODAY to Stop Tar Sands in the Bay Area!

This morning CBE sued Phillips 66 and Contra Costa County based on the County’s omission of critical crude quality information and its failure to mitigate the significant environmental, public health and safety impacts from Phillips 66’s Propane Fuel Recovery Project before approving the project and issuing permits.

Read more in CBE’s press release [here] ; and see today’s filings [here].

KPIX VIDEO: Bay Area activist Andrés Soto on explosion in West Virginia

Repost from KPIX News
[Editor: Thanks to KPIX for local coverage, but we regret that this report did not mention Mr. Soto’s role as spokesperson for Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community. This report also missed an opportunity to cover the highly successful grassroots efforts here in Benicia to stop a proposed crude by rail development at Valero Refinery.   – RS]

West Virginia Train Derailment Is Reminder Of Bay Area Bakken Oil Shipment Vulnerability

Bay Area environmentalists are anxiously watching reports of a train derailment in West Virginia because the same Bakken crude oil is transported through Martinez and Richmond.  Christin Ayers, (2/16/15)