In a stunning victory for environmental groups, the California Court of Appeal rejected most of Chevron’s challenge to a lower court decision that stopped construction on a $1 billion refinery upgrade.
The decision is a vindication for those of us on the City Council who maintained that the EIR was deficient and voted not to certify it. In my case, that vote was not a vote against the project; it was a vote against a flawed process that eventually led to shutting down construction at a great loss of jobs.
Had we been listened to, the EIR could have been repaired, the project approved, and presumably well under construction by now. In what is counter-intuitive for a lot of people, we who opposed the EIR certification are being blamed for shutting the project down. In fact, just the opposite is true. Those who wanted to proceed with a flawed EIR bear that responsibility. They include the City Council majority, the construction trades unions and Chevron, to name the most important.
The ball is in Chevron’s court. They could appeal to the Supreme Court, but legal experts generally agree that would be fruitless. They could ask the City to repair the EIR along with appropriate mitigations and move the project forward. Or they could do nothing. There is some indication that Chevron has lost interest in the project and would rather just let it die while continuing to blame others. We’ll see.