Bay Area refinery expansion halted; project would have allowed 76 additional oil tankers per year in San Francisco Bay

Thursday November 12, 2020

In a win for activists, local communities won’t face threats from increasing crude oil tanker traffic as BAAQMD stops environmental review of marine terminal expansion at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery

RODEO, CA — In a win for local environmental activists, communities throughout San Francisco Bay won’t face threats from increased crude oil tanker traffic in local waters after the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) halted the environmental review for the marine terminal expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery.

BAAQMD quietly halted the permitting process on November 2, pending a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the refinery’s renewable diesel project that was proposed earlier this year. Local activists had remained skeptical about Phillips 66’s long-term plans, as its renewable diesel announcement didn’t mention what it would do about its existing permitting processes like the marine terminal expansion. The marine terminal proposal went through a scoping process in 2017, but no draft environmental impact report had been released.

“The halting of the Phillips 66 refinery’s expansion project stops the threat of increased imports of crude oil and tar sands through San Francisco Bay. This is a pivot point. As California continues to move away from oil, Phillips 66’s proposal could be the last refinery expansion plan that East Bay communities need to fight. Local community resistance stopped oil train terminals in Benicia and Pittsburg, and now local community resistance also deserves credit for this win,” said Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Campaign Director at Stand.earth and part of the Protect the Bay coalition. 

“Now is the time to recognize the inevitable: the world is already on the path to clean energy. We need leaders like Gov. Newsom to push for a managed ramp down of production throughout all of California’s refineries, instead of the chaotic, corporate-led energy transition we’re currently witnessing with Marathon and Phillips 66 both laying off workers at their Martinez and Rodeo refineries,” said Krogh. 

Local activists and environmental groups who are part of the Protect the Bay coalition are celebrating this important procedural step as the likely final nail in the coffin for Phillips 66’s expansion plans. A marine terminal expansion would have permitted an additional 76 oil tankers in local waters, more than doubling the number of tankers traveling through San Francisco Bay to Phillips 66’s refinery. Many of the tankers would have carried tar sands crude oil from the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada. Tar sands is one of the dirtiest crude oils on the planet and is extremely difficult to clean up in the event of an oil spill. 

“Fenceline communities have been fighting refinery expansion plans in the Bay Area for decades. I personally never missed a meeting on the environmental review for Phillips 66’s marine terminal expansion proposal. Halting this project is a testament to the hard work of so many community members who have been steadfast in their resistance to the growth of the fossil fuel industry in their backyards,” said Janet Pygeorge, a 85-year old Rodeo resident, member of the Protect the Bay coalition, and president of the Rodeo Citizens Association.

Although BAAQMD’s halting of the permitting process is likely the final nail in the coffin for the Phillips 66 refinery’s expansion plans, local activists plan to continue opposing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to dredge San Francisco Bay, which would enable deeper tankers to access refineries along Carquinez Strait. 

Timeline of community opposition

Local environmental activists have been fighting various expansion proposals at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery for years. The current marine terminal expansion proposal was announced after successful opposition defeated a proposed tar sands train offloading facility at Phillips 66’s Santa Maria refinery, which feeds crude oil to the San Francisco refinery. Recent action to oppose Phillips 66’s expansion plans include: 

  • In April 2020, Stand.earth and the Protect the Bay coalition helped organize more than 9,700 people who submitted comments in opposition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to dredge San Francisco Bay.  
  • In November 2019, Stand.earth and the Protect the Bay coalition participated in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hearing on the proposal to dredge San Francisco Bay, submitting a petition signed by more than 18,600 people opposing the project.
  • In June 2019, Stand.earth helped launched the Protect the Bay Coalition alongside local residents and groups to educate the community about the health, climate, and spill risks from the expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery.
  • In March 2019, local environmental and community groups hosted a town hall in Rodeo to discuss the risks of Phillips 66’s proposal to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like tar sands.
  • In September 2018, Indigenous leaders from British Columbia traveled to California to join elected officials and local activists from the Bay Area for a panel highlighting the climate and air pollution connections between Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline and Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery expansion.
  • In August 2017, more than 24,000 people submitted comments in opposition to Phillips 66’s marine terminal expansion during the scoping phase of the project.

Protect the Bay coalition members include Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment (CRUDE), Idle No More SF BayInterfaith Council of Contra Costa CountyRodeo Citizens AssociationStand.earth, and Sunflower Alliance. Supporting organizations include 350 Bay AreaAmazon WatchCenter for Biological DiversityFriends of the Earth USFresh Air VallejoGreenaction for Health and Environmental JusticeNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 350 Silicon Valley and San Francisco Baykeeper.

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Media contact: Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Campaign Director, matt@stand.earth, +1 360 820 2938 (PST)