CBE has worked to build a healthy Richmond for over 20 years. Richmond is a working class community, predominantly people of color, and it’s been impacted by decades of environmental blight and economic divestment. Richmond is home to the 3,000 acre Chevron Oil refinery – the largest polluter in the area and the top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter in the state.
Refinery pollution contributes to high rates of asthma, cancer, and heart disease among Richmond residents. CBE’s Richmond Health Survey identified the chemical exposures eating away at the public health of this community.
The Chevron refinery has compiled a long record of safety and pollution violations. The latest major incident occurred on August 6th, 2012 where an explosion sent 15,000 residents and 19 workers to the hospital. Federal and state investigators discovered the root causes: processing of heavier (dirty) crude oil and management failures in refinery safety and maintenance. CBE was the first responder fighting for worker and community health and safety (news archive of this event here).
Chevron has incessantly flexed its financial muscle, attempting to expand its Richmond refinery. The expansion would allow processing of dirtier crude oil, which would mean even more pollution and a refinery more prone to accidents.
CBE lawsuits in 2009 and 2014 (still pending) successfully protected Richmond from almost 1 million additional tons of GHGs and other toxins from being released.
In the face of Chevron’s pollution, CBE and residents are creating a healthier Richmond by working towards a greener and more democratic local economy powered by renewable energy.
On July 10th, 2014, CBE and allies won key conditions ensuring the expansion project doesn’t expand threats to the health and safety of Richmond. The Richmond Planning Commission approved a plan to reduce pollution from the refinery, comprehensively replace aging pipes, which will dramatically increase safety, and calls on Chevron to invest in green jobs and clean energy projects for the Richmond and San Pablo areas.
Despite the presence of the Chevron refinery–the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter California–Richmond is still one of the first cities in the U.S. to include an Energy and Climate Change Element in its General Plan update. In 2009, the City of Richmond completed its first ever greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Based on the City of Richmond’s analysis of greenhouse gases inventory, we noticed that the city did not address reducing industrial and commercial sources of emissions, which comprised over 80% of the City’s total GHG emissions. CBE is still working on Chevron accountability to reduce emissions and invest in clean energy at the refinery, and is pushing a Climate Action Plan that will encourage these emissions to be reduced locally.
In 2011, a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) motion was introduced by City Councilmember Tom Butt to conduct a feasibility study with Marin Energy Authority and City of Richmond consultants. CBE participated in the first community meetings on CCA and spoke at the Richmond City Council. CCA would build local renewable energy, local jobs, and strong energy efficient measures.