Chevron is trying to use Sacramento lobbying to bypass environmental protections for Richmond.
Negotiations are still going on between environmental groups, the city of Richmond and Chevron about protections for restarting the Chevron expansion project. But Chevron is now lobbying the state legislature to sneak through a special exemption which allows the giant oil company to do its project without having to file an Environmental Impact Report and reach agreement with the city about environmental protections.
In July 2009 a court ruled that Chevron's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its expansion project was flawed because it did not reveal its true plans for the expansion, Chevron stopped the project instead of submitting a revised EIR or negotiating with the environmental groups. Chevron then appealed and again the Courts ruled that its EIR was seriously flawed noting that Chevron told one thing to its stockholder but another to the community.
In the last few months a Democratic assemblyman has been serving as a mediator to find a way to restart the project. The city delegation for the mediation includes Mayor McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Ritterman, Council Member Viramontes, the City Manager and City Attorney (see Chevron Loses). In previous mediation attempts the environmental groups demonstrated a willingness to try other approaches to protect the community. Chevron has refused to seriously address concerns about community health.
Chevron asks CEQA exemption
Apparently Chevron is trying to bypass these negotiations by asking the legislature for a special exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This act requires that projects must file and get local community approval of an Environmental Impact Report. This is the main tool which allows communities to protect their air and water and other environmental conditions. An exemption for any project should be questionable under any circumstance. But to give an exemption to the company after judges have ruled that Chevron misled the public with its report would be a scandal and is only possible because Chevron has such deep pockets for politicians.
A number of mainstream environmental organizations like the Planning and Conservation League have drafted letters to send to the leadership of the State legislature asking them to refuse an exemption to Chevron.
Write your legislator and ask that they too refuse to give a free pass to Chevron. Our air and water and our lives are too important to trade for Chevron campaign contributions. We don't want a further weakening of the California Environmental Quality Act. Demand that Chevron come to the negotiating table prepared to negotiate real protections of our air and water and to file a truthful and accurate Environmental Impact Report.
[Editor’s Note: For more information, see an article in the LA Times PolitiCal blog. Berkeley readers: See the comparison to UC’s legislative end run around the environmental regs for its Memorial Stadium project.]