STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Hundreds Oppose Tar Sands Refinery

Posted by mhudema on July 15, 2008

Hundreds in Bay Area to Oppose Toxic Refinery Expansion

WHEN: Tuesday, July 15th ; 6:15pm vigil, 7:00 p.m. hearing
WHERE: Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd.

WHAT: Hundreds of Bay Area residents will be attending tomorrow’s Richmond city council hearing on Chevron’s bid to expand the Richmond refinery to process more, heavier crude oil. Richmond residents and the wider Bay Area community see the expansion of the plant to burn ever-dirtier crude in direct opposition to California’s commitment to combat air pollution and climate change. Prior to the hearing there will be a community vigil led by a Richmond Catholic priest and an Oakland priest whose parishioners are employees of the Chevron plant.

On June 12th the Richmond’s planning commissioners reversed a decision to put a cap on the kind of crude oil that Chevron can process at its refinery in the city. Previous hearings have seen a record 400 people attend to voice their deep concern about the significant health and environmental consequences of burning dirtier crude.

WHO: Hundreds of Bay Area residents including community priests, refinery neighbors, and representatives from The Richmond Alliance for Environmental Justice, including Communities for a Better Environment, West County Toxics Coalition, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Richmond Greens.

WHY: Richmond is in the center of a growing national debate over refinery expansions, gas prices, clean air and climate change. The city council ruling next Tuesday could increase pollution 5 to 50 times current levels, and setback efforts to curb climate change by locking in infrastructure that will keep the Bay Area addicted to the dirtiest form of oil for the next 50 years.

With the rising price of premium grade crude oils, processing this less expensive, dirtier crude is the oil companies’ answer to increasing their corporate profits. Growing global demand makes low quality contaminated crude oils substantially cheaper for refiners. They can achieve price discounts of more than $5 per barrel, which would generate $400 million in yearly profits for a refinery the size of the Richmond operation.

Chevron wants to expand its 3,000-acre plant on Richmond’s waterfront to add a new power plant, a hydrogen pipeline and crude oil refining facility. The material processed at the new facility would have higher contents of sulfur and other impurities, released into a community already facing adverse health effects from toxic air pollution.

On June 6th the planning commission approved a limit on the amount of heavier crude the refinery can process, which they reversed on the 12th.

At the same time that California is positioning itself as a leading green state, the Richmond ruling could set precedent for refineries across the country rushing for permits to expand their ability to process dirtier crudes; locking in significant long term adverse effects to air pollution and the climate.

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