Air Quality Board Moves Toward History-Making Vote

Jun 2, 2017

The Air Quality Board discusses the motion displayed on the screens above them in a packed hearing room on Wednesday,  just before that vote that passed it.  The vote set the GHG rule for final approval on June 21st.

6/18 – IMPORTANT UPDATE TO BELOW:  Just last week Jack Broadbent, CEO of BAAQMD, is now wanting to go back on what he agreed to and change the EIR so that it allows the refineries much more room than the cap proposed in Rule 12-16 and that the Board instructed him to proceed with.  Essentially, this will allow the refineries to put a whole refinery worth of emissions in the air before they have to worry about the cap.  We need a big turnout Wednesday to convince the Board to demand that he not do this.

In a landmark decision on May 31, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District voted overwhelmingly to move forward with capping greenhouse gas emissions from the Bay Area’s five refineries.  After years of opposition by District staff, a delegation of lawyers and leaders of our coalition went to the Governor’s office and convinced the California Air Resources Board to affirm the authority of regional Districts to defend the health of constituents by imposing protective regulations.  Months later, as 350 Bay Area and our coalition kept the pressure on, the District staff announced that they would support capping GHG emissions from refineries.  This gave Board members the reassurance they needed to vote 16 to 3 to ask the staff to prepare the regulation for adoption at their next meeting on June 21. If finalized, it will represent the first time in the United States, and possibly worldwide, that any jurisdiction has put an unyielding cap on refinery greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a huge win in our drive to limit the power of Big Oil and protect the health of Bay Area residents. The attempted filibuster by scores of refinery managers and workers failed.   The decision will make it extremely difficult for the refineries to refine more dirty Canadian tar sands crude or to increase production for export.  As the first limit imposed on refinery GHG emissions anywhere in the country, this action will likely set precedent for further regulations up and down the West Coast and beyond. See a news report on the action in the East Bay Times HERE. There will be much more to do, to drive down refinery emissions of dangerous particulates, toxics and other pollutants in further rule making this year.  This is a crucial first step, that we won with the help of many members of 350 Marin and 350 Bay Area, who attended meetings over four long years of advocacy.  If you have time to get more involved in this issue please contact us at richardgraysart@gmail .com