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Response to Chamber of Commerce Endorsement for Chevron Project

With all due respect to my friends and colleagues in many productive endeavors, Judy Morgan, Tom Waller and the Richmond Chamber Board, I disagree with the Chamber's unconditional and unmitigated support for the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal project.


The Chamber, which depends critically on Chevron's monetary largesse, has a long and uninterrupted history of doing whatever Chevron tells it to do. There is a word for that.


Unfortunately, the Chamber's arguments are couched in hyperbole and terms that ignore the central issues of the debate. No one is seriously talking about running the Chevron refinery out of town. Few are seriously talking about not approving the project. No one is denying that, one way or another, we all depend on fossil fuels produced at some refinery somewhere.


There is no evidence, as Waller argues, that "calculations [presumably in the EIR] based on extreme, maximum theoretical values ... may bear little resemblance to actual operating conditions." Even Chevron does not dispute the calculations of greenhouse gas and other emissions. In fact, these calculations are based on information provided by Chevron.


The real issue here is not whether or not we use fossil fuels, whether or not Chevron should be allowed to continue to refine them more efficiently (and more profitably) or whether or not Chevron should be run out of Richmond.


What I and many others are asking is simply that any impacts on the people of Richmond be mitigated and that Chevron be required to comply with the law, in this case AB 32, which requires reduction of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. Clearly, a 900,000 metric ton increase in greenhouse gases caused by this project will severely impact Richmond's ability to meet AB 32 requirements. Failure to meet those requirements could eventually result in sanctions that significantly affect the business community in Richmond.


Waller notes that "for an indeterminate period of time into the future, weíll still be living in a petroleum age with widespread demand for oil products." He's right. That demand, which is exacerbated by an almost incomprehensible explosion of development in China, India and the Middle East, has already resulted in $110 per barrel oil price and gas prices that have topped $4.00 a gallon. The single largest contributor to greenhouse gases in California (over 40%) is vehicle use, and 80% of this is privately owned automobiles. Waller did not even mention climate change, which could ruin the California economy. These are economic issues in which the Chamber of Commerce should be vitally interested. Experts will tell you that initiating change now will be relative inexpensive, but waiting will not be. Postponing critical decisions on greenhouse gases and global warming to preserve short-term conveniences will cost our children dearly. Is that what the Chamber stands for -- opting for short term convenience while passing the costs to our children?


I submit that the Chamber Board's position is shortsighted, ignores overwhelming scientific data, dismisses the health concerns of the residents of Richmond and tarnishes the Chamber's reputation in a City where the Chamber should be courting residents to patronize local businesses. I am a member of the Chamber, but neither I nor other ordinary Chamber members were ever notified that the Board was considering this matter. The Board position was essentially the result of a secret vote.


Why couldn't the Chamber take a position like the following?


"Chevron is a local business and a member of the Chamber. Like any other member of the Chamber, we support their ability to improve their operating efficiency and profitability, and we support approval of the Conditional Use Permit for the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project with appropriate conditions and mitigations as the Design Review Board, the Planning Commission and the City Council deem necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Richmond." 




From: Judy Morgan [mailto:judy@rcoc.com]
Sent: Tue 3/18/2008 4:29 PM
To: Butt, Tom
Subject: Support the Chevron Renewal Project

Dear Members,


Attached you will find a message from our Chairman Tom Waller.


Judy Morgan


Richmond Chamber of Commerce

(510) 234-3512


A Point of View about the Chevron Project


The Richmond Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to support approval of the Chevron project by the City of Richmond.


The almost $1 billion project at Chevronís Richmond refinery is complex and multifaceted with plenty of emotional reactions arising from various groups, especially around the issue of air emissions.


For those who donít trust big business and especially big oil, there are probably no set of arguments in the hundreds of pages of project documentation that will convince them of Chevronís responsible behavior or the projectís viability and many benefits.


Over the past hundred years of the Richmond refineryís existence, the combination of improved production practices, technology development, equipment replacement, and scientific measurement has led to closer scrutiny of all aspects of refinery operations while total emissions have declined below levels that are considered safe.


Going forward, Iím sure that unrelenting regulatory oversight along with good manufacturing practices will continue to stimulate ongoing improvements in refinery operations. This project involves upgrading equipment and processes to achieve overall improved refinery capability and reliability along with further reductions in actual emissions.


There are a lot of details in the projectís documentation, all of which is available online.


  • For example, there are stated intentions to adjust the mix of the refineryís output so thereís a larger percentage of higher quality gasoline needed for California markets while keeping total refinery output volume the same as it is now.
  • There are also stated plans to accommodate incoming crude oil with higher levels of sulfur while enhancing sulfur removal capacity and still reducing total emissions of sulfur oxides.
  • When you look at numbers in the documentation, consider carefully whether youíre looking at the many required calculations based on extreme, maximum theoretical values which may bear little resemblance to actual operating conditions.

Even as mankind seeks alternatives, the fact is that for an indeterminate period of time into the future, weíll still be living in a petroleum age with widespread demand for oil products. I donít think anyone pretends that oil refining is a zero-emissions activity any more than driving a combustion-engine vehicle is. But, unless local citizens want to try to run the Chevron refinery out of town, letís enable it to operate optimally for best performance and safety.


All things considered, the Chevron project makes sense and should be approved.


Tom Waller

Chairman, Board of Directors

Richmond Chamber of Commerce



From: Priselac, Camille (ccaj)
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 11:26 AM
To: Brumfield, James (JBRU)
Subject: FW: Support the Chevron Renewal Project







Dear Neighbor,

I wanted to update you on our plans to upgrade the facilities at the Richmond Refinery.

On January 31, the Design Review Board voted 4-0 to recommend the project for approval by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the project as its March 20 meeting. The details are below:

Planning Commission Hearing
Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
Council Chamber, 1401 Marina Way South

Now is the time to make your voice count. Please click here to let the Planning Commission and City Council know you support this important project.

We hope we can count on your support.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Brumfield
Community Relations Manager
Richmond Refinery




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Jim Brumfield
Richmond Refinery
PO Box 1272
Richmond, CA 94802

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