What is the Costco Mega Gas Station Project?

The gas station project includes a 10,000 square foot canopy that covers 14 fuel dispensers and accommodates 28 fueling positions. Three 40,000 gallon Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and one 1,500 gallon additive UST will be buried in the ground, covering a former marsh tide. The gas station would be built in the parking lot in front of the Costco Warehouse in Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, right next to a pediatric clinic, a pristine watershed, and a vast wildlife area.

In September 2022, the Marin County superior court ordered Novato to set aside the approval of the Costco Gas Station from March 2021, agreeing with seven concerned residents of Novato who filed a lawsuit in April 2021 that the city needs to conduct an environmental review because the project might have significant environmental impacts related to air quality and health risks.

Right now, the City of Novato is preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) to comply with the Marin Court’s order before the Costco Gas Station project is voted on again, making the next few months a crucial time for action.

Timeline of the process:
  1. The Novato Planning Commission will give public notice when the DEIR is up for review for the public at the next Planning Commission meeting, at one of the next Planning Commission meetings tentatively this July or August.
  2. After a public comment period of 45 days, the Planning Commission will vote on accepting the DEIR, and the final EIR will be completed a couple of months later.
  3. The City Council would act on the Fuel Station application with an up or downvote at the end of the year.

This timeline could change depending on the number of comments requiring further study.

This EIR will address the following subjects:
  • Air Quality
  • Biological Resources
  • Cultural Resources
  • Energy
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Hazards and Hazardous Materials
  • Hydrology and Water Quality
  • Transportation

Keep reading to learn more or click here to jump to what you can do.

Why is it more urgent than ever to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure?

Gas stations and burning gasoline affect our health and climate.

Gas stations are classified as toxic hot spots and can negatively affect health and air, water, and soil quality.Gasoline is made out of crude oil, a fossil fuel, and typically contains more than 150 chemicals, including small amounts of benzene, toluene, and xylene. Benzene is a known carcinogen; toluene and xylene can cause kidney and brain damage and are the most toxic among the compounds.

Local health risks from this mega gas station will increase because of the large number of fueling positions. Nearby road traffic from the Vintage Oaks shopping center and the busy 101 freeway also adds to pollution.Vapor plumes and smoke would extend across adjacent roads and neighborhoods. Residents and workers with long-term exposure are the most affected; children absorb more of it due to the greater surface area in their lungs. Children and older adults who live near gas stations are more affected. Children have increased asthma and leukemia, and the elderly show increased heart attacks and strokes.

Gasoline and diesel exhaust are the single most significant source of unhealthy air pollutants ASIDE FROM carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that can linger in the atmosphere for thousands of years. 

Scientists urge a Net-Zero Target of 5-7 years to avoid climate chaos.

The 2023 United Nations climate change report found that the Earth could pass a dangerous temperature threshold in the next decade.  That could make human-caused climate disasters so extreme that we cannot adapt. Thus, urgent action should be taken to stop rising carbon dioxide emissions now and reduce it instead.

In 2021, Novato’s City Council was eager to approve the Costco Gas Station because of the expected tax revenue and to foster Costco’s Business expansion desires. 

But now, in mid-2024, with multiple heat and temperature records worldwide on land and in the ocean, we see that a Climate Emergency is here and that climate disasters are costing more and more lives and taxpayers’ money.

Therefore, Costco’s cheap gas is not cheap. It will not make us prosperous because it fuels our addiction to fossil fuels. If you have lung cancer, you stop smoking; if our planet is on fire, you stop pouring gasoline on it.

What is the federal and state government plan?

Under vehicle-emission rules unveiled by the Biden administration in April 2023,  electric vehicles would make up as much as two-thirds of all U.S. car sales by 2031. California adopted a strict deadline for ending the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, along with six other states. California’s plans specify that 35% of new car sales will need to be zero-emission vehicles by 2026, with that number rising to 68% by 2030.

What has novato done, and should do now, to walk its talk?

  • In November 2020 Novato declared a Climate Emergency.
  • In November 2022, Novato approved an Ordinance to prohibit New Gas Stations from being built in Novato. Because it was already under city review before the ordinance was passed, the ban does not affect the planned Costco gas station.
  • 63% of community Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Novato are caused by transportation, according to Novato’s 2020 GHG Emissions Inventory, with 79% of  these coming from passenger cars.
  • Hence, transitioning exclusively to all-electric transportation is the most effective approach to swiftly diminish health risks and our greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a prosperous future. Consequently, endorsing the construction of the Novato Costco Gas Station should be an absolute no-go.
  • Novato should disapprove of the largest gas station being built in Novato and Marin. More fossil fuel infrastructures is a dead-end road. Put People, the planet, and future generations before short-term profits.
Clean air and a sustainable future are essential for all of us

Here are steps you can take to join and protect air quality and pristine watersheds and  prevent more GHG emissions in Novato. Let’s do our part.

  • Sign the petition and spread the word to friends and neighbors.
  • Stay posted for action alerts in our 350Marin newsletter and website.
  • Join the No Costco Mega Gas Station campaign to work and mobilize together! We need all hands on deck to make calls, talk, and meet with the Novato representative, Planning Commissioners, and City Council Members. Give public comment at their meetings. Write emails and letters and write opinions in local newspapers.

Any help at any level is very much appreciated. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Please contact Silke Valentine at silke.350Marin@gmail.com for more info.