What is an “EIR”?

The EIR is an Environmental Impact Report, which is a document needed for any major project that would affect the environment. It evaluates the project’s effects on a lot of different things, like air quality, public health, endangered species, and the ability to provide services like firefighting.

In the case of the WesPac project, only drafts of the EIR have been released – the final EIR is due out soon. (We don’t know exactly when.) But you can read the whole EIR on our own city’s website. Click on this link and scroll down to where you’ll see the full EIR – 24 chapters, an executive summery, a glossary of terms, plus 16 (A through P) appendices. There’s a lot to read, but it is very interesting!


The “RDEIR” and comments

The last draft published is called the recirculated draft EIR- RDEIR for short – and it’s available one chapter at a time on the City’s website here. It’s about 2000 pages long all told and was published earlier in 2013.† At that time, public comments were received to be considered for the final EIR; they are collected here. You can also see the comments received in 2012 on a prior draft.

One of the best comments on the EIR is the NRDC’s 34-page letter, which contains detailed and is some places quite technical responses to the EIR, including calling it out for not talking at all about the types of crude oil planned.

Recent letters

So far, the City of Pittsburg has received at least three important letters after the formal comment period closed. All three mention the importance of knowing what type of crude oil the WesPac project would receive, because different types of crude can have very different dangers.

The letter from the California’s Office of Planning and Research asks whether the proposed WesPac oil terminal might receive tar sands, because the project might contradict California’s plans for energy infrastructure and its commitment to reduce heat-trapping gases that cause climate change.

The Refinery Action Collaborative, a “labor-community-university partnership”, sent a letter saying that, to be adequate, the EIR has to analyze the possible types of crude.

Finally, the letter from the California Attorney General lists many problems with the RDEIR, starting with the fact that it doesn’t specify what types of crude oil it might receive.