Court: Chevron Refinery Must Redo Environmental Review in Richmond, CA

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups
Contact: 

Will Rostov, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6725
Torm Nompraseurt, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, (510) 323-5245
Nile Malloy, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 926-5737
Henry Clark, West County Toxics Coalition, (510) 232-3427

Court: Chevron Refinery Must Redo Environmental Review in Richmond, CA

Community, public health, and climate advocates cheer

Martinez, CA - On June 4th 2009, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barbara
Zuniga tossed out the Environmental Impact Report for a major expansion
at the Chevron Refinery, in Richmond, California. Community groups
hailed the decision as a significant victory over U.S. oil refinery
expansions happening across the country to accommodate heavier, dirtier
crude oil.

Link to decision below.

At issue was an environmental review that failed to disclose that the
proposed expansion would allow Chevron to process heavier crude oil.
Environmental, community, and public health groups sued the City of
Richmond for accepting a flawed EIR that did not fully analyze the
project's health and environmental impacts. Heavier crude oil can
contain higher amounts of contaminants, such as mercury and selenium,
which can cause serious health problems.

"The City of Richmond signed off on an oil refinery expansion plan that
likely would have opened the gates for Chevron to refine heavier,
dirtier crude oil, which could increase pollution." said Earthjustice
attorney Will Rostov. "This needs to be studied in an environmental
impact report."

In her decision, Judge Zuniga said: "The [Final Environmental Impact
Report] project description is unclear and inconsistent as to whether
[the] project will or will not enable Chevron to process a heavier
crude slate than it is currently processing."

"Protecting our communities from additional toxic and global warming
pollution is a huge victory," said Jessica Tovar, a community organizer
with Communities for a Better Environment. "This is an opportunity to
invest in clean green energy as a solution, instead of compromising our
health by locking in a generation of refining dirtier crude oil."

"The decision is a victory for the community," said Koy Seng Saechao, a
community leader with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. "We need
green and healthy solutions from Chevron and our City, not more
pollution. The decision protects my family and neighbors from even more
pollution and allows us to plan for a healthier future."

"The decision is a great victory for environmental justice for Richmond
residents and the country," said Dr. Henry Clark of the West County
Toxics Coalition. "It shows that justice is alive and well. We should
all be proud of this decision that protects our communities health and
safety."

Court Requires Review of Greenhouse Gas Mitigations under California Law

The court also held that the City improperly allowed Chevron to wait a
year after the EIR process was completed before developing a plan to
mitigate its greenhouse gases. This is one of the first decisions
addressing the deferral of greenhouse gas mitigations under the
California Environmental Quality Act.

Finally, the court agreed with Plaintiffs that the project had omitted
an important component: a hydrogen pipeline that would attach to the
newly approved hydrogen plant - one of the project's four key
components - and stretch to ConocoPhillips Rodeo Refinery and Shell's
Martinez refinery.

BACKGROUND

Communities in Richmond, particularly low-income and communities of
color already suffer from industrial pollution-related health problems,
including high rates of asthma and cancer. Chevron's refinery is the
largest industrial polluter in the region.

The case Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific
Environmental Network & West County Toxics Coalition v. City of
Richmond was filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court on September
4th, 2008 by attorneys from Earthjustice and CBE.

Read the decision here:
http://www.earthjustice.org/library/legal_docs/chevron-decision-6409.pdf

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