Sign a petition to urge the Air District to finally adopt a strong protective refinery pollution rule.
The BAAQMD Stationary Source Committee (SSC) voted 7-4 on March 15 to send the stricter Wet Gas Scrubber proposal for Rule 6.5*—a measure to reduce health-destroying particulate matter from the Chevron and Marathon refineries—to the full Board of Directors, without the alternative option of a less effective technology. The community turned out in force and made eloquent and persuasive comments in favor of the tightest possible regulation of Bay Area refinery particulate matter emissions, or PM 2.5, the primary driver of all “stationary” (non-transportation) air pollution health impacts in the Bay Area. Up until that hearing, staff had offered two options: to adhere to weaker standards and adopt Electrostatic Precipitator technology, or demand the more health-protective wet scrubbers. As an 11th hour attempt to muddy the waters, BAAQMD staff announced a “combined” strategy of starting with the weaker standards and eventually moving to the wet scrubbers. The staff proposal would have delayed implementation of wet scrubbers for up to ten years..
The public demanded that BAAQMD adopt the strictest regulation with maximum reduction in PM 2.5 emissions—adoption of “wet scrubbing” technology in the chambers that are used to break down heavy oils, the Fluidized Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCUs)—on the earliest feasible timeline, as recommended by their own Advisory Board. A majority of the Stationary Source Committee concurred.
BAAQMD staff has been taking the indefensible position that oil companies’ costs outweigh the communities’ health benefits of wet scrubbing technology, already in place at Valero in Benicia as well as at over half of U.S. refineries. They’ve justified this stance by accepting industry’s extravagant cost claims, and by grossly underestimating the health consequences—such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke—borne primarily by the low-income, Black and Brown residents of frontline communities.
The extend of industry opposition to the Air District adopting this stronger emission regulation is at unheard of levels. At the Apr. 7th BAAQMD Board of Directors meeting, the SSC meeting minutes were only on the consent calendar for routine report backs. A Board member moved the item out of the consent calendar, enabling it for public comment. The oil industry and Building Trades unions had been prepared for this and had mobilized dozens of speakers to oppose the PM reductions to intimidate Board members. It is clear that industry will go all out to stop the implementation of the most health-protective standards. It is critical that all impacted communities, environmental and climate justice organizations, public health professionals and others attend the June 2nd BAAQMD Board of Directors meeting to speak in support.
Board of Directors meeting:
Staff has released a Draft Rule 6-5 for the required 30-day public comment period. Full documentation can be downloaded from the BAAQMD website. Response to public comment and a final rule package will be released by May 21, for a vote at the Board of Directors meeting on June 2.
Don’t forget to sign this petition supporting the passage of Rule 6-5!
June 2nd, 9 A.M.
Join Zoom call with option for public speaking on June 2nd here. Watch this space for future updates.
*See a detailed analysis of “Rule 6-5” and its enormous health impacts in this December post.