We need to know what WesPac could be bringing into Pittsburg

What’s in WesPac’s oil? Labor/environmental coalition wants to know.

We know that WesPac’s project would be used to bring in tar sands, among other dangerous types of crude oil. We know that the California state government recently sent a letter to the City of Pittsburg asking them point-blank if the WesPac project would be used to bring in tar sands.

Now a local labor and environmental coalition, the Refinery Action Collaborative, has sent a letter to the lead agencies for several related projects in the Bay Area making the same point: an environmental review of an oil project must consider what effect that project has on the types of crude oil that the refineries might take in.

The City of Pittsburg has said that they won’t answer California’s simple questions. Hopefully, with the additional pressure and attention from this letter, they will be forced to include this vital information in their final report. You can help! Residents like you can ask questions and make comments at City Council meetings in City Hall.

The letter as text

Refinery Action Collaborative
San Francisco Bay Area


18 December 2013

Hon. Federal Glover, Chair, and Members of the Board Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County

Hon. Elizabeth Patterson, Mayor, and Council Members City Council, City of Benicia

Hon. Nancy Parent, Mayor, and Council Members City Council, City of Pittsburg

Hon. Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor, and Council Members City Council, City of Richmond


Chevron Richmond Refinery “Modernization” Project,
Phillips 66 San Francisco Refinery Rodeo “Propane Recovery” Project, Praxair “Contra Costa Pipeline” Project,
Valero Benicia Refinery “Crude by Rail” Project, and
WesPac Pittsburg “Energy Infrastructure” Project—Disclosure of Refinery Oil Feedstock Quality Among Data for Environmental Review

Dear local government leaders,

The Refinery Action Collaborative (Collaborative) is a labor-community-university partnership working to address critical environmental health and safety concerns shared by refinery workers and residents regionally. Collaborative members include the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the BlueGreen Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Steelworkers (USW) International Union, United Steelworkers Local 5, and United Steelworkers Local 326.

We understand that the proposed projects identified above are currently in environmental review, including public review of potential environmental health and safety impacts, and that your city or county is the California Environmental Quality Act “lead agency” in this review for one or more of these projects. The Collaborative has not taken a position on the projects at this time. We write to support an adequate environmental review of these projects that includes, among other factors that have the potential to affect refinery safety and emissions, public disclosure of potential changes in refinery oil feedstock quality.

Our Collaborative’s founding principles commit us to “pursue solutions that improve transparency and public accountability in the refinery industry.” In a major effort earlier this year, our groups reached consensus on a Recommendation to Ensure Prevention of Feedstock-Related Emissions Increase, released in June 2013, that calls for the public disclosure and review of each Bay Area refiner’s oil feedstock quality.1 We also have supported community leaders’ call for full and transparent environmental review of all potential risks associated with the Valero Benicia proposal, including its potential to facilitate a change in refinery oil feedstock quality.2 More recently, we made recommendations to the Governor’s Interagency Refineries Task Force that called, among other things, for public reporting of refinery crude feed quality, explaining that:

Disclosure by the refineries of the quality of crude oil entering the plant is necessary for assessing the efficacy of a plant’s safety measures and air pollution controls.3

As leaders of the public environmental reviews for these proposed projects under the state’s Environmental Quality Act, your agencies are positioned to address these needs. Accordingly, we respectfully ask you to ensure that the environmental reviews of these proposed projects will disclose and address current and potentially changing refinery oil feedstock quality among the factors affecting community and worker health and safety.

On Behalf of the Collaborative,

Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director
Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Charlotte Brody, Vice President for Health Initiatives
BlueGreen Alliance

Greg Karras, Senior Scientist
Communities for a Better Environment

Nazima EL-Askari, MPH, Program Coordinator
Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley

Diane Bailey, Senior Scientist
Natural Resources Defense Council

Ron Espinoza, District 12 Sub-Director
United Steelworkers International

Mike Smith, Local 5 Field Rep.
United Steelworkers Local 5

Moxie J. Loeffler, D.O.
Internal Medicine Physician

1 Bay Area Air Quality Management District Proposed Regulation 12, Rule 15; March 2013 Preliminary Draft Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule; comments submitted to Jack Broadbent, Executive Officer, BAAQMD. 13 June 2013. See page 3.
2 Supporting the Committee’s position on the Valero Crude-by-Rail Project; letter to the Benicia Good Neighbor Steering Committee c/o Marilyn Bardet. 25 July 2013.
3 Initial Response of the Collaborative to the Findings & Recommendations of the July 2013 Draft Report of the Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety; 10 October 2013. See p. 7.

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