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Our Health Is Not For Sale

Posted by mhudema on July 16, 2008

Chevron Offers Richmond’s City Council $61 Million to Approve Refinery Expansion
Richmond Residents and Bay Area Community say, “Our Health is Not for Sale”


Richmond, CA—Over 500 Bay Area residents attended a Richmond City Council public hearing last night on Chevron’s bid to expand the Richmond refinery to process dirtier crude oil.  The plant expansion is seen as a dramatic step in the wrong direction in the effort to decrease pollution-related health risks and climate change in Richmond and the Bay Area.  The City Council is expected to issue a final vote today in what has been a 4-year permitting process.    
 
In a last minute effort to lock-in City Council approval for Chevron’s refinery expansion, yesterday Chevron presented the City of Richmond with a $61 million dollar ‘Community Benefit Agreement’ (CBA).  The Agreement, submitted to the city council in closed session immediately before the public council hearing, would reportedly include $6.75 million for jobs and education programs, $6 million for community health programs, and requires the City Council’s approval of the expansion project. Other elements of Chevron’s proposal include requiring the City to propose the implementation of standards that would exempt Chevron projects from design review and would result in changes to the City’s land-use process for Chevron projects.
 
 “$61 million over a decade in comparison to the $50 million a day Chevron spends on oil expansion is insulting – these are Chevron’s crumbs,” said Jessica Tovar of the Community for a Better Environment.  “Our health is more important than Chevron’s wealth.”
 
As indicated by a poll released earlier this week, conducted by David Binder Research and commissioned by the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, an overwhelming majority (73 %) of voters support the City Council delaying a decision on the Chevron expansion until the environmental and health impacts of refining heavier, dirtier crude oil is fully reviewed by the City.  In anticipation of Chevron’s effort to pressure the City Council with the CBA, the poll also showed that 75% of Richmond voters think that it is important that potential projects be determined in an open public process, which the CBA undermines.
 
“Of course Richmond needs resources for schools, safety, and public health. But if the City Council approves Chevron’s dirty oil refining project in exchange for $61 million, it is condemning another generation of kids in Richmond to a future of asthma, cancer, and other pollution-related health problems,” said Roger Kim, Associate Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, in response to Chevron’s CBA.  “This looks like a last-ditch effort to induce the City Council to approve Chevron’s dirty oil refining project and we hope the council knows better than to take it.”
 
The Richmond Alliance for Environmental Justice— a coalition of community groups that represent thousands of Richmond families—is demanding the city council establish a ‘comprehensive crude cap’ to ensure the Chevron refinery is limited from processing dirtier crude oils.  In addition, the Alliance is demanding Chevron pay into the “Fund for Richmond’s Future” – a community-controlled fund to support the development of a cleaner and greener economy in Richmond.  
 
“Chevron’s pay-off is an insult to the residents of Richmond,” said Dr. Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition.  “Chevron should pay more than $61 million for decades of poisoning our communities.”
 

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Richmond Alliance for Environmental Justice includes: Atchison Village Environment Committee, Communities for a Better Environment, West County Toxics Coalition, Laotian Organizing Project/Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Richmond Greens, Richmond Vision 2000, ACORN Contra Costa County, Richmond Equitable Development Initiative, Urban Habitat, Faithworks!, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, Direct Action to Stop the War, Greenaction, and Genesis (partial list).

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