Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
  E-Mail Forum
  Chevron Cogeneration Project Generates More than Energy
July 12, 2005
Chevron has filed an application for a project consisting of four main components: Hydrogen Plant Replacement, Reformer Replacement, Power Plant Replacement, and Hydrogen Purity Improvements. The Renewal Project will replace and alter facilities within the Refinery. A hydrogen pipeline is part of the project. Other smaller projects involve the addition and replacement of storage tanks, additional truck traffic through the Marketing terminal, and a court-ordered cumulative impacts analysis of two recently construct LPG spheres (See E-FORUM Richmond Loses EIR Suit on Chevron's LPG Project, October 30, 2004)

The Richmond Planning Department noticed the Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (Notice of Preparation) on June 15, 2005, and invited scoping comments on the issues to be addressed in the EIR. Written comments on the scope of the issues that the City should address in the Draft EIR must be received by July 25, 2005. Comments should be sent to:

Caron Parker, Senior Associate
Environmental Science Associates
436 14th Street, Suite 600
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 740-1728; Fax: (510) 839-5825
e-mail: renewal@esassoc.com

Already, the project is generating controversy. On June 28, 2005, Richard T. Drury of the legal firm Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo stated in a memo to Greg Feere of Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council: “We have filed a Public Records Act request asking for all application materials and CEQA documents related to the project. City Attorney Everett Jenkins has not returned numerous phone calls, and staff informs us that they have been instructed by the City Attorney’s office not to give us the related documents.” The request was made by Drury on May 27 and received by the City Attorney on June 1, 2005.

Generally, the California Public Records Act requires a 10-day turn around on record requests, which would have made the City delinquent and in violation on June 10, 2005. Richmond has a very long and very poor record of complying with public records requests.

Also, on June 28, 2005, Greg Feere contacted City Council members to convey Drury’s request and went on to express the opinion that “…Chevron is currently constructing their project illegally with out of state and out of area non-union workers…”

On June 30, 2005, Everett Jenkins, in a memo to the City Council, denied Drury’s allegations, saying that he had, in fact, returned phone calls from Adams Broadwell, and he attached a memo dated June 29, 2005, to Richard Mitchell, Interim Planning Director, asking that the requested records be provided “as soon as possible.”

On July 8, 2005, Drury fired off another letter to Jenkins requesting an immediate inspection of Chevron to “confirm allegations of unpermitted construction activities related to the Chevron Energy & Hydrogen Renewal project.” Drury went on to say, “We have reliable information indicating that Chevron has begun construction of a cogeneration plant at its Richmond refinery…The cogeneration plant is identified in Chevron’s own application materials submitted to the City of Richmond as one of the four main elements of the Hydrogen project to be addressed in the Draft EIR. Drury requested that a stop order be issued if the inspection confirmed the allegations.

Keeping tabs on construction at Chevron is complicated because Chevron has unique authority under Richmond’s Certified Inspection Program (Richmond Municipal Code 6.02.200) to prepare permits and inspect its own construction work. The introduction to 6.02.200 states: “Regular inspections required by this section and elsewhere in this chapter shall not be required where the work is done on the premises of an industrial property owner registered and approved by the Building Official to perform such work without regular inspection.”  This legislation is another example, like the Utility User Tax “maximum tax payable (commonly called the “cap”) crafted by past Richmond City Councils in response to Chevron’s demand for special treatment.