At the 11/30 hearing, Air District staff committed to a full workup of the Community-Worker Proposal, including a CEQA Analysis, which would enable the Board to consider it and vote for its adoption—if we can persuade them to do so—within the 1st quarter of 2016. Staff also promised to announce a new adoption hearing date at the Dec. 16th hearing. This is a huge step in the right direction. Because of our passion and persistence, the staff was forced to abandon its months-long strategy of evasion, disparagement, and outright dismissal. We prevented a Board vote on the staff's own deeply flawed Rule 12-16, which was previously scheduled for Dec. 16th.
We do not, however, see Rule 12-16 on the agenda for Dec. 16th, even for the purpose of discussing new timelines. What is scheduled is a vote on three source-specific rules, and we hope to see these three regulations, however weak they may be, approved unanimously by the Board. These rules reduce emissions from refinery catalytic cracking units, cooling towers and leaks in pipes used in heavy oil processing units, and their adoption is long overdue. But the exclusion of our proposal from the hearing agenda is worrisome.
We must continue to demonstrate broad community support for refinery-wide numeric caps on emissions with strong, stepped-up turnout and incisive comments. Please arrive by at least 8:30 a.m. and ideally even earlier. Once again, the oil industry is going to pack the house as they did on November 30th and many times before. They’re reaching deep into their bottomless pockets, sending out their refinery workers, mobilizing their legal staffs, and cranking up their PR machine. We can’t afford to slack.
Please come prepared to deliver two-minute testimony. Remind the staff of its publicly-made promise to incorporate our proposal and urge Board direction for a numeric caps adoption hearing by March. This is a crucial fight for environmental and climate justice and our only chance to keep tar sands from flooding Bay Area refineries. Our presence in the hearing room and our remarks to the Board are essential for a successful outcome to this precedent-setting struggle. Here are some possible topics for testimony:
- The need for a Just Transition and countering the industry's jobs vs. health meme.
- Climate urgency and lessons from Paris. (You’re working towards 1.5 C—really?)
- The case for local regulation of GHGs: inadequacy of state cap-and-trade for regulation of local emissions (toxic co-pollutants).
- Tar Sands and its impacts on First Nations people in Alberta; tar sands refining & health consequences for Bay Area refinery communities; impact on global GHGs.
The showdown at the Air District = KXL 2.0.
The tar sands threat didn't go away when Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline. Tar sands oil doesn't require pipelines to arrive at refineries up and down the West Coast, where it is being diverted; it's already begun to enter the Bay Area via barge, tanker and train. The switch to "price-advantaged" crude not only promises even greater refining profits but threats to our health, safety and climate, with potentially huge increases in air pollution and explosion hazards from oil trains and refineries. This is why we see our struggle for stringent emission limits as our own regional KXL 2.0. Putting caps into place can prevent a tsunami of tar sands into our Bay Area refineries. We need to keep strongly communicating this message to the Air District Board. And we must demand that staff stop rubberstamping permits-to-emit from tar sands projects.
Unregulated toxic carbon emissions should be curbed—even the Air Resources Board agrees. Known GHG co-pollutants already cause serious local health impacts that tar sands refining would worsen, but these toxics will remain unregulated unless greenhouse gas emissions are capped.
No compromise with our health or climate.
Oil refining is the largest industrial emitter of greenhouse gas and deadly particulate matter in the Bay Area. Industry plans to process dirtier and more dangerous grades of extreme crude will increase refinery emissions even beyond their current levels. A truly public health-protective Air District would suspend all permitting for new refinery projects until enforceable numeric emission limits are in place—limits that include GHGs.
The staff argues that California's cap-and-trade program already regulates greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the need for local regulation. We disagree. Cap-and-trade covers a fraction of statewide GHG emissions, and it allows frontline communities to be poisoned by particulate matter and other deadly GHG co-pollutants while refineries trade pollution credits. Please stand up for your friends and neighbors on the refinery corridor, and for environmental and climate justice. Show up on December 16th and testify!
Oil and our Air Officials, fact sheet, Communities for a Better Environment (pdf)
Communities for a Better Environment Slide Presentation, presented to the Air District on 11/30 (pdf)
Labor and Communities, Sunflower Alliance (pdf)
For more background on the refinery emissions regulations, see: http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/showdown_at_the_air_district
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