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Staff Embarrasses Itself with Chevron CUP Recommendations

All of the documents to be considered by the Richmond Planning Commission on Thursday, March 20, 2008, for consideration of certification of the FEIR and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) of the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal project can be accessed by clicking below:



I want to thank Planner Lamont Thompson for emailing these documents to me. This may be the only way that most people will be able to see them before the Planning Commission hearing. I have to say that this set of documents, in my opinion, represents a despicable, incompetent, spineless and illegally miserable performance by City staff. This is clearly not their finest hour. They have utterly failed in their primary mission – protecting the health safety and welfare of the City of Richmond and upholding the laws of California.


These are pretty harsh words, but in this case, they fit. Our City staff had simply rolled over on this one. I am ashamed and embarrassed to be associated with the City of Richmond today.


Like the public, I have had little time to review these documents (another problem), but in a cursory review, a couple of things caught my attention.


The Design Review Board performed yeoman’s work in their review of this project. You can see the transcript of their recommendations to the Planning Commission by clicking Design Review Board Conditions. But our City staff, without any authorization or right, decided which recommendations to incorporate in the staff report and which ones not to incorporate. For example, staff deleted the Bay Trail recommendations in their entirety. This is unbelievable arrogance!


In the treatment of greenhouse gas emissions, staff ignored the advice and warnings of the California attorney general (See Jerry Brown Remains Skeptical of Chevron EIR, March 8, 2008, and (Click here). I just got back from a Local Government Commission conference where the final panel today was entitled “CEQA – Working With the AG to Address GHG Emissions in Our Communities.” One of the panelists was Deputy Attorney General Susan Durbin, who assured us that the AG expected local jurisdictions to incorporate GHG reduction measures into CEQA reviews even before the protocols are developed by OPR. The AB 32 guidelines are clear – Chevron must reduce GHG to 1990 levels by 2020 and must include concrete actions.


Where do we go from here? I urge every person in Richmond to attend, call, write or email the Richmond Planning Commission, for the public record, and urge them to (1) heed the recommendations of the attorney general in considering the certification of the EIR and the CUP, (2) demand the Planning Commission adopt all of the Design Review Board recommendations, and (3) impose $100 million of “Community Impact Projects” Click here  as conditions to mitigate greenhouse gases and protect the health, safety and welfare of Richmond residents.


Chevron is conducting its own phone call and email campaign supporting this project. I am getting formula emails, presumably from people associated with Chevron in some way that say:


Dear Planning Commission and City Council:

As a Richmond resident, I support the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project.

The project replaces existing equipment with new equipment that is more energy efficient and includes enhanced environmental controls - reducing overall emissions at the Richmond Refinery.

The improvements will help fund services for Richmond including public safety, street repairs and youth programs. And more than 1,200 good-paying construction jobs - most are expected to be filled by union labor - will be created.

I urge you to support the project when it comes before the Planning Commission for approval.

Name: XXX

Address: XXXX

Email: XXXX