Environmental groups suing Chevron Corp. over the renovation of the company's aging Richmond refinery threw their support on Tuesday behind a settlement proposal from California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
"It's not the best of all solutions, but we feel it's a solution that gets people back to work and protects the health of the community," said Nile Malloy, Northern California program director for Communities for a Better Environment.
Last year, Malloy's group and several others persuaded a judge to halt the upgrade project on the grounds that its environmental impact report didn't answer key questions. The settlement proposal, issued by Brown last month, would allow the upgrade to resume, with restrictions.
The refinery would not be allowed to refine heavy grades of crude oil, although Malloy said the refinery would have more flexibility to use different grades than his group initially wanted. In addition, Chevron would have to replace the refinery's boilers, install equipment to prevent flaring, improve its energy efficiency by 20 percent in the next 10 years and install solar panels capable of generating 15 megawatts of electricity.
A Chevron spokesman said Tuesday that any settlement should be handled through the courts, not in a public discussion.
"We appreciate the interest Attorney General Brown and others have expressed in the Renewal Project," spokesman Brent Tippen said in an e-mailed statement. "We ask that they respect the ongoing confidential Court of Appeal mediation process."