Chevron Proposal Gains Support

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Listen to the report by Margie Shafer.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KCBS) -- Richmond community and environmental groups seem set to throw their support behind an informal settlement agreement with the Chevron refinery proposed by Attorney General Jerry Brown.

In June, a judge ruled that the refinery's environmental impact report on the plan for construction of its Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project was invalid.

Judge Barbara Zuniga said Chevron failed to disclose whether the project would enable the refinery to process heavier crude oil.

And in July, Zuniga ordered the refinery to stop construction on the project within 60 days, causing them to start to layoff employees.

Refinery officials said the upgrade would increase the refinery's flexibility to process a wider variety of crude oil and improve the plant's energy efficiency and reliability. They also claimed that the project would reduce overall emissions at the plant and that the environmental review was sufficient.

The environmental groups, however, said that the upgrade was actually an expansion that would enable the refinery to process heavier crude oil that could result in increased pollution in nearby communities.

Chevron has since appealed the ruling and the process has included confidential mediation between the two sides.

Brown's alternative: require the refinery to agree to a limit on the heaviness of crude oil it could process at the plant and to hire an independent expert to monitor emissions from the refinery.

Oral arguments are scheduled in the case on February 23.

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