103 groups tell California leaders to start reducing refinery production now

103 groups tell California leaders to start reducing refinery production now

Thursday July 23, 2020

In letter to Gov. Newsom, groups demand gradual decommissioning of oil industry so state can meet its climate goals, protect communities

SAN FRANCISCO — More than 100 social change organizations and community groups from throughout California including Community Energy reSource, Sierra Club California, Food & Water Watch, San Francisco Baykeeper, and Asian Pacific Environmental Network have signed a letter calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to start gradually reducing the state's oil refinery production so the state can meet its climate goals and protect communities from further unnecessary pollution. 

The letter, which was sent to Gov. Newsom's office today, draws attention to the report “Decommissioning California Refineries: Climate and Health Paths in an Oil State,” released earlier this month. The report outlines how California's leaders can forestall an escalating climate and jobs crisis for the state's communities and workers by scaling down oil refining for export over the next few years—starting now.  

“A more gradual, more socially just energy transition that makes climate protection more feasible is still possible if we start now,” said Greg Karras of Community Energy reSource, who authored the report for Communities for a Better Environment.  

The letter, which was sent by 103 organizations that work to protect communities and the climate from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction, transport, processing, and combustion, reads in part: 

In order to meet California's climate goals and protect communities from further unnecessary pollution, California must immediately begin a process of gradually cutting production from our oil refineries. The report "Decommissioning California Refineries: Climate and Health Paths in an Oil State," released July 6, 2020, from Communities for a Better Environment, makes a clear case for the need for government leadership to align the reduction of California's refinery throughputs with state climate policies. 

The recent examples of the unplanned shutdowns of the Marathon refinery in Martinez and the PES refinery in Philadelphia further emphasize the need for policy leadership that protects communities, provides for a just transition for refinery workers and all petroleum industry workers, and avoids the economic disruption of a rapid, unplanned shutdown of refineries in communities already hit hard by COVID-19 impacts. 

The letter asks Gov. Newsom to avoid the worst impacts of a chaotic transition by leading on key elements of the transition for refinery workers following policies outlined in the report: 

  • Implement local just transition planning (Report recommendation 3).  Refinery cities like Richmond will suffer severe local community justice impacts without a planned transition. 
  • Start these processes immediately (Report recommendation 4).  The Air Resources Board has the authority to act and can begin today on the recommendations detailed in the report, as outlined in the groups' letter. 
  • Implement a moratorium on expansions (Report recommendation 9).  You can and should prevent permitting of all refinery expansions, including the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery expansion proposal. 

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Media contact: Greg Karras, Community Energy reSource, 415-902-2666 (report author)