Fuel standards bill’s implementation is vital to California

By Dr. James K. Brown

Oakland Tribune My Word © 2013 Bay Area News Group

August 6, 2013

One year ago Tuesday, a fire at Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery sent black smoke wafting across the East Bay.

Contra Costa Health Services asked residents to stay in their homes, close the windows, and wait it out. About 11,000 people sought medical treatment. Many suffered from eye, nasal and throat irritations that were short-lived. For those with pre-existing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their cough and shortness of breath increased dramatically, sometimes for extended periods.

This refinery fire was a dramatic demonstration that air pollution is bad for our health. A more compelling concern is the evidence that chronic, low-level exposure to air pollution has serious long-lasting adverse effects, including stunting of lung growth and increasing asthma among children, premature death in those with chronic lung diseases, and heart attacks.

Chevron refinery fire tied to lax oversight

Federal accident investigators urged a complete overhaul of California’s “patchwork” of oil industry regulations Friday at a state legislative hearing into the fire last year at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.

“This patchwork system of regulation has serious challenges,” said Don Holmstrom, who is leading the investigation for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, adding that California’s ineffective regulatory efforts reflect weaknesses in federal and other state oversight programs.

 

Chevron refinery could restart within a few days

RICHMOND — State regulators said Thursday they may be within days of allowing Chevron to resume operations at its refinery in Richmond, which has been hobbled since a fire in August.

The state’s California Occupational Safety and Health Program, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, has been spending the week at the refinery to go over dozens of items related to its operations.

“If we are assured that everything meets our standards, we could lift the order prohibiting use at the refinery,” said Ellen Widess, chief at Cal/OSHA. “That could happen within a few days.”

East Bay lawmakers introduce bills aimed at Chevron in aftermath of Richmond refinery fire

RICHMOND — Responding to last year’s massive refinery fire at Chevron’s refinery here, East Bay legislators Loni Hancock and Nancy Skinner introduced two state bills late Friday aimed at strengthening air quality regulators’ ability to penalize and compel industry compliance.

State Sen. Hancock’s bill, SB 691, aims to increase civil penalties that stationary air pollution facilities must pay for violations of state air quality regulations. Assemblywoman Skinner’s bill, AB 1165, would give the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) new powers to force the correction of unsafe conditions regardless of whether an appeals process is initiated.

Chevron fined nearly $1M for Calif. refinery fire

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Chevron was fined nearly $1 million by the state on Wednesday in connection with a fire at the company’s San Francisco Bay area refinery last year that sent a cloud of gas and black smoke over residential areas.

The California Division of Occupation Safety and Health said investigators found “willful violations” in Chevron Corp.’s response before, during and after the Aug. 6 fire in Richmond caused by an old, leaky pipe in one of the facility’s crude units.

Read the full story at YahooFinance

The attempt to derail California’s clean-air policies

California businesses and the public at large are beginning to reap the substantial rewards of our state’s landmark clean air and energy policies. Unfortunately, this progress is in significant jeopardy thanks to the oil industry and other dirty energy companies that continue to do everything possible to undermine these laws. It is important to remember the long history of these efforts by looking at the facts – and that means treading over some familiar turf.

Read the full story at CapitolWeekly.net

Richmond Mayor Joins Protesters at Chevron Refinery

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin joined peaceful demonstrators during a rally in front of Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. About 300 people from the nationwide movement called “Money Out, Voters In” demanded lawmakers pass measures that limit the corrosive influence of money in politics and expand democratic participation at the polls. Chevron donated substantial amounts of money to both local and national campaigns.

See the slideshow at Mercurynews.com

http://photos.mercurynews.com/2013/01/20/richmond-mayor-joins-protesters-at-chevron-refinery/