Will the Contra Costa Planning Commission approve the Environmental Impact Review for Marathon’s planned conversion to producing biofuel — even though the EIR leaves many questions about possible health, safety, and climate problems unanswered? Join the Planning Commission meeting to discuss the EIR. Learn more about the issues and weigh in with your views.
A broad coalition of environmental organizations have studied Marathon’s current Environmental Impact Review and written a detailed analysis showing that it fails to deal adequately with potential negative impacts of this project.
This is the first of two biofuel production proposals to come before the planning commission. The planned conversion of the Marathon refinery in Martinez and the much larger-scale planned conversion of the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo would make Contra Costa County the world’s largest producer of liquid biofuels based on the refining of animal fats and vegetable oils.
Biofuels are promoted as a green alternative to petroleum on the theory that the absorption of carbon dioxide by growing plants balances the carbon dioxide released by burning the oils the produce. The truth is much more complicated.
Refining biofuels creates potential local and global hazards. It requires higher temperatures than refining petroleum, creating the potential for more fires, explosions, and flaring. It requires larger amounts of hydrogen, usually produced in a process that releases methane, a toxic gas that is a more powerful GHG than carbon dioxide.
Some feedstocks, especially animal fats, create potential odor problems, and plant and animal fats have the potential to gum up refinery equipment.
Growing enough crops for biofuels has the potential to divert agricultural land from food crops, raising global food prices. There is also a danger that demand for biofuel feedstock will lead to increased deforestation.
The current EIR fails to give adequate analyses of these hazards and possible mitigations. That will be the focus of comments from community and environmental organizations at the Planning Commission hearing. Note that this hearing is not about the pros and cons of the project itself, but about whether the current EIR adequately addresses these issues.
More information on the specific issues and talking points based on a critical review of the EIR here
Wednesday, March 23, 5 PM
Agenda for the meeting and link to join here