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On June 2nd the Air District can overcome the influence of Big Oil by passing a rule to reduce the major source of the most dangerous pollution from Bay Area oil refineries. 

Working intensively with the staff and the Air District’s respected Advisory Council as primary community stakeholders, our 350 Bay Area Clean Air policy analyst and volunteers have impressed upon the Board members the injustice of over 100 years of refineries spewing PM and other toxics over an area inhabited by more than a million of their neighbors, who are disproportionately lower-income people of color.  

National-level scientists and public health experts agree that PM is responsible for high rates of asthma and numerous other health impacts, including: lung damage, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, strokes, autism, dementia, diabetes, low fetal birth weight, preterm birth, changes in fetal gene expression, premature death and vulnerability to COVID-19.

After studying the issue for well over a year, the District’s Advisory Council declared in December 2020 that there is no safe level of PM; that the District should set a new standard for reducing PM; and take maximum feasible action within its authority to protect community health, especially in areas that are the most impacted, as quickly as possible.

The District’s  Stationary Source and Climate Impact Committee has now directed the staff to prepare a rule for adoption at the June 2nd Board of Directors meeting that will require retrofitting Chevron/Richmond and PBF/Martinez, the two refineries operating fluidized catalytic cracking units or “cat crackers”. These are the largest single industrial emitters of this deadly pollution in the Bay Area.

The “Cat Cracker” Rule 6-5, would finally require installation of the best available retrofit technology, likely a “wet gas scrubbing” system, as is used at the majority of US refineries. This upgrade has the potential to reduce PM from these ”cat crackers” by a whopping 70%, saving lives and preventing lifetimes of chronic health impairments.

The Air District staff have offered the opinion that the wet scrubbing cost to the refineries outweighs the cost of the multiple, serious health impacts to the million people who live and work near the refineries. As a compromise, they will present to the Board an unacceptable alternative implementation schedule. It would give the refineries six to ten years to install the wet gas scrubber technology that should only take three years. The full staff report on Rule 6-5 can be viewed here.

 As we approach the June 2nd hearing, it is crucial that all Board members receive forceful encouragement from their constituents to move forward with the most stringent health-protective rule; to require compliance as soon as feasible and to dismiss inevitable objections about the cost by the Western States Petroleum Association and their allies.

Three Critical Actions You Can Take: 

  1. Sign this petition to the Air District Board of Directors – to end this environmental injustice, by adopting the strongest standard to protect our communities from deadly PM asap!
  2. Find out who your county representative(s) is/are on the BAAQMD Board of Directors here (some counties have multiple reps) and write a letter to them – sample letter here
  3. Attend the virtual Board meeting on June 2 – RSVP here for meeting details. Board Members need to hear from thousands of their constituents (like you) that we insist they pass the strongest available regulation to help address this environmental injustice.