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Attorney General Letter to City Dated March 19, 2008

With its head imbedded firmly, arrogantly and complacently in the sand, the City of Richmond plowed into the Planning Commission hearing of March 19, 2008, still pondering whether global warming and greenhouse gases were something we should actually be concerned about down here in “Richmondville” where, by gum, nobody tell us what to do (unless they are a $100 billion corporation whose name begins with “C.” .


Our flat earth City staff apparently has failed to read AB 32, which is the California law they have sworn to uphold:

38501. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a)   Global warming poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and the environment of California. The potential adverse impacts of global warming include the exacerbation of air quality problems, a reduction in the quality and supply of water to the state from the Sierra snowpack, a rise in sea levels resulting in the displacement of thousands of coastal businesses and residences, damage to marine ecosystems and the natural environment, and an increase in the incidences of infectious diseases, asthma, and other human health-related problems. (b) Global warming will have detrimental effects on some of California’s largest industries, including agriculture, wine, tourism, skiing, recreational and commercial fishing, and forestry. It will also increase the strain on electricity supplies necessary to meet the demand for summer air-conditioning in the hottest parts of the state. (c) California has long been a national and international leader on energy conservation and environmental stewardship efforts, including the areas of air quality protections, energy efficiency requirements, renewable energy standards, natural resource conservation, and greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles. The program established by this division will continue this tradition of environmental leadership by placing California at the forefront of national and international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. (d) National and international actions are necessary to fully address the issue of global warming. However, action taken by California to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases will have far-reaching effects by encouraging other states, the federal government, and other countries to act. (e) By exercising a global leadership role, California will also position its economy, technology centers, financial institutions, and businesses to benefit from national and international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. More importantly, investing in the development of innovative and pioneering technologies will assist California in achieving the 2020 statewide limit on emissions of greenhouse gases established by this division and will provide an opportunity for the state to take a global economic and technological leadership role in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

They obviously don’t believe what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has to say, or anyone else outside of Richmond or who isn’t on Chevron’s payroll. Fortunately, Jerry Brown, once again, tried to set them straight. With the March 19 letter from Jerry Brown (Click here for a copy), they are finally getting a glimpse of a world that might exist outside of the bubble that surrounds Richmond, and our crack legal team started thinking for the first time that Jerry might actually have a point. Incidentally, I did not obtain this letter from City staff, which specializes in keeping the City Council in the dark. I got it from our local newspaper reporter, Katherine Tam of the West County Times. Thank you Katherine. Jerry Brown told them what many ordinary people, Citizens for a Better Environment and the West County Toxics Coalition have been telling them for months: “This letter highlights areas where we continue to believe the Project and FEIR do not comply with CEQA and could be improved.”


I rest my case.


I do not know how this Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project debacle will turn out, but I do know that the Richmond City staff, from the city manager and city attorney on down have turned in one of the most miserable performances and leadership failures I have ever seen.