The problem with Chevron in Richmond Op-Ed

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in menu_set_active_trail() (line 2405 of /home/apimovem/public_html/includes/

By Ana Orozco, Torm Nompraseurt, Dr. Henry Clark
Guest Commentary


AT STAKE in Richmond is environmental health and justice on the front-lines of the struggle for healthy and prosperous communities. The Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment and West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC) are led by our community members in this struggle.


People living near Chevron's refinery face a legacy of environmental racism, disparate environmental health risks and pollution-related blight every day. Increasing refinery pollution will only make that poison more toxic.


The project Chevron started building would enable the refining of heavier, more contaminated, inherently more polluting oil. That was not disclosed by Chevron's environmental review. We found out about it, as did California Attorney General Jerry Brown and the local building trade unions before they were pressured to leave our side. Now a court has made the same finding. Chevron's attempt to pit jobs against health presents a false choice. We need and can have both. Chevron can make its public promise that it will not refine lower-quality oil into a commitment that ensures this outcome.


Specifically, Chevron should agree to an enforceable "cap" that limits the worsening quality of oil processed at the Richmond refinery. Refining heavier, more-contaminated grades of oil increases toxic emissions and discharges, flaring, catastrophic incident risk and greenhouse emissions.


A "crude cap" is the simplest, the most reliable and perhaps the only way to prevent all the pollution caused by refining inherently dirtier oil.


We know this project will enable the processing of heavier and more contaminated oil. Independent reviews by the trade unions' expert, CBE's experts and the state AG's expert came to this conclusion based on detailed evidence.


Even the EIR consultants admitted this in their response to the AG's expert, after they wrote the final EIR. And while it denied this during the environmental review, Chevron's sworn statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission clearly admits that it designed the project to enable processing of heavier oil.


Refining heavier and more-contaminated oil passes more pollutants into the environment, requires more intensive processing that increases pollution incident hazards and requires more energy that increases refinery fuel combustion emissions.


It has increased toxic selenium discharges by more than 10 times, the frequency and magnitude of environmentally significant flaring by several times, and CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent at some refineries. It could double mercury emissions and double or triple CO2 emissions from oil refineries nationwide.

Chevron already monitors its oil quality. It already refines oil of the same quality that this "cap" would hold it to. The cap does not require the refinery to do anything different from what it is already doing now. CBE, APEN and WCTC are environmental justice organizations. Our mission includes supporting workers' rights to safe workplaces free from pressure to make a false choice between environmental health and livelihood. We stand with communities and workers for health and jobs. We respectfully seek your support for this stand in Richmond now.

Nompraseurt is with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and is a 33-year Richmond resident; Clark is with West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC) and was born, raised and lives in North Richmond; and Orozco is a community organizer for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE).