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No One Happy with Planning Commission Chevron Decision
After Dean O'Hair was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying “…company officials were pleased by Thursday's [Planning Commission] decision,” Chevron apparently had second thoughts and, according to the Contra Costa Times, filed an appeal, stating that the conditions "lack a lawful nexus to the Renewal Project, are not supported by substantial evidence in the record; are arbitrary and capricious; interfere with operation of the refinery without corresponding environmental benefit; and are directed to the refinery as a whole rather than any specific impacts" of the project.”

Appeals are also expected from community groups who are not happy either with the outcome.

If there were any happy campers to be found, it would be Bay Trail advocates, who note: “Not mentioned in Katherine Tam's article is that the Planning Commission swept aside arguments by Chevron and its lawyers by voting 4/1 last night to require Chevron to help close the Bay Trail gap on its property on the south side of I-580 between Tewksbury Ave. and the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge toll plaza where an existing trail goes under the bridge toward Point Molate.  The conditions adopted by the Commission in approving Chevron's Energy & Hydrogen Renewal Project require Chevron to provide (1) the needed trail easement, (2) $5 million for design & construction of the $10 million trail and (3) maintenance of facilities and equipment funded and installed by Chevron such as fencing, surveillance and alarm devices.”

Chevron appeals Richmond Planning Commission decision on refinery upgrade

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 06/20/2008 04:42:00 PM PDT

Chevron filed a formal appeal Friday afternoon of Richmond's decision to approve its plans to upgrade its refinery with a list of provisions, some of which the oil company claims are "arbitrary and capricious."

The appeal means the proposal's fate moves to the City Council, a direction that many had predicted.

Chevron wants to replace its hydrogen plant, power plant and reformer to refine a wider range of crude and produce 6 percent more California-grade gasoline.

The Planning Commission on Thursday night approved a permit, including a limit on the crude that runs through one piece of equipment critical in the refining process.

In its appeal, Chevron wrote that the provisions "lack a lawful nexus to the Renewal Project, are not supported by substantial evidence in the record; are arbitrary and capricious; interfere with operation of the refinery without corresponding environmental benefit; and are directed to the refinery as a whole rather than any specific impacts" of the project.

A number of environmental and community groups also disagreed with the commission's decision, saying the restriction does not provide sufficient safeguards to protect the environment and public health.

They had lobbied for more comprehensive crude restrictions that would have limited specific components of the crude oil. They said they will appeal, too.

Appeals already have been filed on a related issue. Both Chevron and its opponents are appealing the Planning Commission's June 5 decision to certify the project's environmental impact report, though for different reasons. The EIR is key because officials could not have granted a permit without approving the document.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Ruling reversed for Chevron

No cap on types of crude oil at refinery

Friday, June 20, 2008

Richmond's planning commissioners on Thursday reversed a decision to limit the kind of crude oil that Chevron can process at its refinery in the city, a move decried by environmental groups concerned that a planned expansion of the plant would increase air pollution.

Chevron wants to expand its 3,000-acre plant on Richmond's waterfront to add a new power plant and crude oil refining facility. The material processed at the new facility would have higher contents of sulfur and other impurities, city officials said.

The commission on June 6 approved a limit on the amount of heavier crude the refinery can process and also OKd an environmental impact report for the project.

But Thursday, a consultant hired by the city to study the proposed plant expansion testified that the limit was unnecessary because there are already restrictions on the refinery's emissions. After hearing from the consultant, Ron Sahu, the commission voted 4-1 to reject the "comprehensive crude cap" advocated by environmental groups. Commissioner Charles Duncan was the lone dissenting vote.

Members of several environmental groups said a cap is necessary to restrict Chevron from processing dirtier, heavier crude oil that could pose additional harm to the health of plant neighbors and they vowed to appeal the commission's decision.

"Pollution will increase as a result of this," said Greg Karras of Communities for a Better Environment. "We are going to appeal this decision to the City Council and we will win."

About 80 people filled the council chambers at Richmond City Hall Thursday night, where the Planning Commission heard public comment.

Chevron spokesman Dean O'Hair said company officials were pleased by Thursday's decision.

The city paid for a highly detailed environmental impact report, which concluded that the expansion would increase air pollution in a "less than significant" way.

"The environmental impact report concluded this renewal project will result in an overall emissions reduction," O'Hair said. "Now we can move forward ... toward building a more reliable refinery."

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who attended Thursday's meeting, said she supports a limit on the kind of crude oil Chevron can process. "We need the fullest amount of protection possible," she said.

The matter will probably go before the full City Council during the summer.

E-mail Christopher Heredia at cheredia@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle