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Chevron Project Goes to Design Review Board Without Final EIR

Despite the fact that the final EIR for the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project is not yet available for public review, the City of Richmond (Chevron’s New Best Friend) is pushing ahead with processing the application with a hearing scheduled before the Design Review Board (DRB) at the City of Richmond Council Chambers, 1401 Marina Way South, Richmond, California at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2008. Click here for a copy.

The official notice for the hearing probably wouldn’t elicit more than a yawn from the casual reader of the announcement considering the description of the project: “The applicant proposes to replace the existing Hydrogen Plant, Power Plant, and Reformer, and install new equipment in order to increase the Refinery’s ability to produce gasoline that meets California specifications, and use a wider range of crude oil sources than are currently processed. The new equipment would improve Refinery reliability, energy efficiency, and add environmental controls.’

Hey, who could be against gasoline that meets California specifications, reliability, energy efficiency and environmental controls? God bless Chevron; they are finally fixing up that old plant, making us all safer and creating a better world.

You would think that your public servants at the City of Richmond would want to provide a more balanced account of what this project entails. Maybe something that might entice you away from the TV and “Ugly Betty,” or CSI: Miami.” Forget it.

Here is what the City of Richmond did not tell the public in the DRB hearing announcement:


Operational activities associated with the implementation of the Proposed Project would increase air pollutant emissions of volatile organic compounds by potentially significant quantities. This impact would be significant and unavoidable both for the Proposed Project and cumulatively as well (Draft EIR)


Proposed Project activities could result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the Refinery.


The major concern for Richmond is that the Chevron Refinery is already a huge source of unhealthy emissions that impact Richmond residents, including:[1]


Reactive organic gases                                  1,811 tons annually

Carbon monoxide (CO)                                  563 tons annually

Oxides of nitrogen (NOx)                                1,1,60 tons annually

Oxides of sulfer           (SO2)                          1,500 tons annually

Particulate matter (PM)                                   248 tons annually


Some emissions would be reduced, while others would increase (Draft EIR):


NOx                                       reduce by 111.2 tons annually

SO2                                       reduce by 21.7 tons annually

CO                              increase by 100.4 tons annually

PM                               increase by 12.2 tons annually

VOC                            increase by 26.7 tons annually


In addition, the DEIR projects that CO2 emission will increase by 898,000 metric tons annually.


Through the addition of air pollution controls and other concurrent process changes, the net effect of the Proposed Project would be to make substantive reductions of NOX and SO2 emissions compared to existing conditions and the net increase of CO and PM emissions would be below the significance thresholds. However, total VOC emissions would be above the BAAQMD significance thresholds. Chevron does not have any available additional contemporaneous emission reduction offsets that could be used to mitigate this significant impact. Therefore, Proposed Project operational emissions of VOC would be significant and unavoidable and emissions of NOx, SO2, CO, and PM pollutants would be less than significant.


Mitigation Measure: None available. Because Chevron does not have any available additional contemporaneous VOC emission reduction offsets that could be used to mitigate this significant impact. Therefore, there are no feasible mitigation measures that could reduce this impact to a less than significant level.


Significance after Mitigation: Significant and Unavoidable (Draft EIR)


I urge anyone who cares about the health of people who live and work in Richmond and climate change to come to the Design Review Board meeting and let the City of Richmond know that you want this project designed in a way that makes Richmond healthier, safer and more attractive --- and does not contribute to global warming -- not the other way around. Click here for a summary of what can be done. Thanks to the “Viramontes Five,” the Design Review Board has dwindled to four individuals who will be facing this juggernaut without the benefit of a final EIR or any experts to help them work through the issues. They need your help.


I can’t believe the City of Richmond is pushing this through with such determined haste. It’s your city, and it’s time to take charge!