Oakland City Council Unanimously Supports Crematorium Reform

Thanks to all CBE members and staff who eloquently spoke at last night City Council meeting.  The City of Oakland Department Of Planning and Building recommendation adopted our Crematorium Ordinance.

This is based over two years of resident engagement in which the ordinance recommending The Planning Commission, and as Directed By City Council under Emergency Ordinance No. 13222 C.M.S., to amend the Planning Code to establish Permanent Regulations Pertaining To Crematories Within The City Of Oakland.

We continue to work to protect our community health and reforming planning department policies to prevent more pollution in our communities.  Our members and allies successfully have been holding the City of Oakland and Planning Department accountable for no additional burden in East Oakland.  For more information, read The Ugly Facts about the Proposed Crematorium.


[ACTION ALERT] Help pass SB 812 to Reform DTSC!

WE NEED YOUR HELP!  SB 812, a bill that the The People’s Senate on DTSC—which includes CBE members–helped draft, and that Senator Kevin de León has championed, is on the Governor’s desk.  SB 812 will help to clean up the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and make the agency more accountable to communities.  We need you to urge the Governor to sign this bill!  Please mail or fax a letter TODAY to the Governor asking him to sign it.

Here is the address and fax number:

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Attn: Legislative Affairs

State Capitol, 1st Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax: (916) 558-3177

 **More about SB 812** SB 812 is an important step toward ensuring that California’s hazardous laws actually do what they were intended to do—protect Californians from harmful pollution.  SB 812 enacts permitting requirements, and transparency and accountability measures desperately needed for DTSC to fulfill its mandate to protect Californians from toxic exposures.  Additionally, it includes requirements to ensure that polluters, not tax payers, will be on the hook for cleaning up polluted sites.



East Oakland Community Power Strategy Session

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 5:30 p.m at 81st Ave Library -1021 81st Avenue.  CBE invites East Oakland members and residents to participate in a strategy session on environmental justice and economic development projects in East Oakland. See flyer. For more info: contact Jose Lopez, jose@cbecal.org, 510-302-0430×24.

Vote for CBE and Power Up LA with Clean Energy!

CBE and our allies have a chance of winning $100,000.  Vote for us today #Solar4SunnyLA: http://bit.ly/LAsun!  We need all of our CBE family and allies to vote for us. CBE want to see LA powered by #solar by 2050.  The deadline is September 16, 2014.  Let’s Power Up LA together with clean energy and transition from fossil fuels.  This vote will benefit working families and build healthier communities.


We Need Healthy Hoods, Not Toxic Hotspots!

Send an email right now urging California lawmakers to support a bill that will help protect communities from toxic waste!

Arvin. Santa Fe Springs. Wildomar. Buttonwillow. Vernon. Shafter. These, and many others, are the names of communities that have had their health and quality of life impacted by some of the most toxic stuff in our state: hazardous waste. Senate Bill 812, authored by Senator De León, will create much-needed public health protections and improve hazardous waste management. But industry is fighting to kill the bill, and it will be voted on this week.

We need your help TODAY: please take one minute to send an email to the California Assembly to urge them to support SB 812 (De León).

In Vernon and Southeast Los Angeles, chronic corporate polluter Exide has contaminated the soil of nearby homes with such high levels of lead that it must be removed, on top of sky high cancer risks from arsenic emissions. In Wildomar, residents have developed inexplicable health issues and even died after living in homes built on toxic soil. All but one of California’s hazardous waste landfills are located in low-income communities or communities of color.

The agency in charge of making sure that deadly hazardous waste isn’t harming community health or the environment, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, has routinely failed at their job. As the LA Times editorialized, “multiple reports and investigations in recent years have described a department unwilling or unable to enforce environmental laws or to properly regulate hazardous waste businesses, putting the public at risk.”

Senate Bill 812 will provide relief to California residents suffering from toxic exposures from hazardous waste facilities and clean-up sites. Learn more about the bill here. SB 812 has been developed by CEJA member Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and by communities who have been most directly impacted by hazardous waste.

Let’s show that people power is mightier than corporate polluters and their profits, and help get SB 812 to the Governor’s desk. 

Take action for SB 812 and community health, not toxic hotspots today!


[PRESS RELEASE]: Stopping Big Oil’s Sneaky Projects that Increase Pollution, Explosion & Earthquake Hazards

Community exposé stops a third stealthy and dangerous LA refinery expansion project that would import Tar Sands & Bakken crude by rail, ship, and pipeline.


Yana Garcia, CBE Staff Attorney:  (323) 826-9771 ext.117

Alicia Rivera, CBE Wilmington Organizer: (310) 634-7839

Friday afternoon August 22, 2014 Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) received an email from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) informing us that the permitting process for a dangerous Tesoro Wilmington refinery project has been stopped.  Tesoro’s permitting description was misleading at best, identifying only a shipyard pipeline to new Storage Tanks, claiming that the project would simply increase offloading speed from ship to shore.  There was no mention of the corrosive and explosive crude oils Tesoro plans to import, or its plans to combine its Wilmington refining operation with its newly acquired BP refinery in Carson; omitting major increases in greenhouse gases that result from tar sands crude oil refining, and other key impacts.  Based on Tesoro’s omissions, the environmental document for the project incorrectly concluded that there was not even the potential for significant impacts.

CBE submitted documentation to the SCAQMD showing that the storage tanks were, according to Tesoro’s own communications, part of a massive, larger project that would cause serious greenhouse gas emissions increases and extreme hazards.  (See CBE technical and legal comments on the project.[1])  The Tesoro-BP refinery integration project was confirmed by SCAQMD, and the agency has informed CBE that comments on the storage tank Title V permit were no longer necessary at this time.  SCAQMD stated that Tesoro will be replacing the associated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental document with documents for the new larger refinery integration project.

Yana Garcia, CBE’s staff attorney stated, “Tesoro’s move to gain approval for a part of the Project without disclosing the impacts of the full project violated CEQA, and shouldn’t have gotten as far as it did.  This is one in a long line of dangerous crude oil import projects the refiners are trying to sneak by us.”

The withdrawn environmental document had claimed the storage tanks were only to increase efficiency of offloading from ship to shore, and would not cause significant environmental impacts.  But Tesoro’s own business reports showed its plans to ship crude oil by rail across the Northern U.S. to the Vancouver Washington area, and then by ship down the west coast.  Tesoro had also considered direct rail shipments to LA.  Tesoro mapped and discussed these plans,[2] as the following excerpt from a Tesoro presentation demonstrates:


One of the crude oils identified by Tesoro for transport to LA is explosive N. Dakota Bakken, which has been identified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as presenting unique hazards of explosion, fire, and corrosivity, whether transported in railcar or other transport mode, requiring additional testing, handling, and information access for first responders.[3]  The oil can also include toxic benzene and hazardous hydrogen sulfide gases.  This crude was involved in a rail-accident that killed almost 50 people in Lac Megantic, Canada, and was involved in numerous other railcar accidents in the U.S.

Tesoro also identified Canadian Tar Sands crude oil for transport to LA, which is causing extreme environmental harm in Canada, would require much more intensive refining and coking in LA, and would result in major increases in greenhouse gases compared to existing crude slates at the refinery.  This crude also contains the very highest levels of sulfur contamination, increasing sulfur corrosion danger in the refinery.  Sulfur corrosion was found by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to cause the explosion at the Chevron Richmond California refinery in August 2012.  Further increasing sulfur without disclosure or safety measures has the potential to cause life-threatening accidents, like that which occurred at the Chevron Richmond refinery and narrowly missed killing 19 workers.[4]

So called cost “Advantaged”crude oils can also increase dangers during impending major earthquakes.  These dangers include risks of fires, explosions, and spills, caused by the increased explosive and corrosive qualities of the crudes.  According to discussions of members of the California Engineering Foundation, while the Uniform Building Code is intended to minimize structural collapse, “Code specifications do not prevent structural damage.(See CBE’s comments, cited above).

Alicia Rivera, CBE Community Organizer in Wilmington said “Oil companies are working to outflank us from every direction, but fortunately we were able to delay them in LA, the Bay Area, and up the coast to Canada, to protect public health and safety and to stop greenhouse gases.  But we, and the public, need to be in constant vigilance because the powerful oil companies will not stop.”   (Also see CBE Map and Fact Sheet –Bad Energy, attached, showing a dozen projects, including two other LA refinery projects stopped after community pressure – Phillips 66 & Valero)

                                                  — END —

[1] The Proposed Negative Declaration by SCAQMD for the Tesoro Pipeline from its Long Beach Marine Terminal to

New Wilmington Refinery Storage Tanks is Missing Major Expansion Plan Descriptions and Requires a Full EIR, June 10, 2014, CBE

[2] Tesoro “Presentations” webpage, Simmons Energy Conference, Transformation through Distinctive Performance, February 27, 2014, http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=79122&p=irol-presentations

[3] The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, January 2, 2014.

[4] http://www.csb.gov/chevron-refinery-fire/