Rule 12-16, which would set transparent, enforceable caps on local refinery emissions—and prevent a major switch to heavier and dirtier crude oil like tar sands—will be considered at this historic hearing of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Board of Directors. It’s very possible that we are on the verge of winning a precedent-setting cap on refinery-emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs). If all goes well, Board will direct staff to schedule a final vote for June 21st.
Four years of passionate activism and dogged persistence have brought this enormous victory within reach.
Although negotiations will continue up until the Board meeting, there’s good reason to believe we have staff and Board support. The Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board will be in attendance, which suggests the state will also give this GHG cap its full blessing. Regulation of criteria pollution—included within the original proposal for 12-16—will not be considered at this time, but we have assurance that it will be addressed in other rule-making, specifically Rule 13-1, which will be presented in September.
Air District Staff dropped its opposition to GHG caps after the Air Resources Board delivered a game-changing letter on April 5th. Richard Corey, ARB’s executive officer, declared his support for Rule 12-16 and Rule 13-1, the related staff proposal to limit greenhouse gases via an emissions-per-barrel approach. “We support the intent of these rules and agree more can and must be done to deliver real reductions in pollutants that are impacting the health of residents living near refineries,” Corey wrote. “We agree both approaches could help to ensure that these sources do not add to the state’s overall emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria or toxic pollutants.”
Several Bay Area public health experts will offer testimony at this hearing about the urgency of preventing further increases of particulate matter and other GHG co-pollutants. GHGs have global atmospheric impacts, but their co-pollutants cause very local health-wrecking impacts, which state policy is beginning to address. A growing body of research shows that people who live closest to refineries are most heavily impacted by these emissions.
Rule 13-1 does not currently call for directly controlling particulate matter and could allow refinery-wide emissions to increase. Making sure it does that is our next big struggle—but this first step towards GHG caps is huge.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Please attend the hearing on Wednesday, May 31, which we hope will lead to final approval at the Board’s June 21 hearing. Your presence will encourage the Board to reach the right decision. Since a huge turnout is expected, public comment is restricted to one minute. We need many of you to cede your minute to our public health experts and coalition representatives, who will be delivering technical comments.
Wednesday, May 31, 9:00 AM – 1 PM
Arrive as early as possible to get a seat, ideally at 9 AM. You must arrive between 9 and 9:15 if you are ceding time to our groups of speakers. There will be someone in the lobby holding a “Cede Time Here” sign. Obtain a speaker’s card, fill it out, then hand it to the person with the sign, who will deliver it to staff. You name will be called by staff when you need to join the block of speakers at the podium to cede time to them.
375 Beale St., Ste. 600
San Francisco 94105
(Between Folsom & Harrison)
Here is an analysis of the deadly local health impacts of a tar sands transition, conducted by a panel of dedicated local public health experts. They estimate that without caps in place, over the 40-year lifetime of new infrastructure to process dirtier tar sands, we could see the deaths of between 800 and 3000 Bay Area residents. The corresponds to added death rates in vulnerable communities within a 2.5 mile radius of refineries, of 30-170 deaths / million / year.
For background, listen to this April 19th KALW report, which includes interviews with members of the Richmond community whose very lives depend on the passage of this rule. (Both the broadcast and a transcript are available.)
The Sierra Club’s coverage is here.
Finally, follow this link to more detailed background on this website of the four-year struggle to cap refinery emissions.