California coalition launches to protect San Francisco Bay from tar sands, oil tankers

California coalition launches to protect San Francisco Bay from tar sands, oil tankers

Wednesday June 12, 2019

Bay Area residents aim to educate community about health, climate, spill risks from expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery

Traditional Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone Lands (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) — A group of local residents today launched the Protect the Bay coalition to educate the Bay Area community about the expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like tar sands. The proposal would impact local health and the climate by increasing refinery emissions and worsening air quality for nearby communities, while also increasing tanker traffic and the risk of a devastating oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

If the refinery’s full expansion moves ahead, more than twice as many crude oil tankers could travel to the refinery, some of them carrying tar sands from Canada, which is extremely difficult to clean up. This could add up to as much as a tenfold increase in the amount of tar sands processed in Bay Area refineries. 

The Canadian federal government is expected to announce next week whether it will approve the new Trans Mountain Pipeline, which would likely supply the tar sands to Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery. Economists have questioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims that the pipeline would help Canada reach new markets in Asia, instead of simply expanding into existing U.S. markets in California and Washington. According to a 2018 Greenpeace report, over the last five years, two thirds of tankers loaded with crude oil from the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline went to California. Read more: Why Californians are worried about the Trans Mountain pipeline (The Narwhal, October 2018)

The coalition launched an extensive website at www.protectthebay.org with factsheets, presentations, and more on the refinery proposal. The coalition asks local community members to get involved to help illustrate the community’s growing opposition to the refinery expansion proposal by:

  • Signing the petition urging decisionmakers to reject the Phillips 66 refinery expansion proposal at www.protectthebay.org/take-action. The petition will be sent to Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and others. 

  • Sharing your opposition to the Phillips 66 refinery expansion proposal and the increase in oil tankers in San Francisco Bay on social media using the hashtag #TarSandsFreeSFBay.

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 WatchFresh Air Vallejo, and San Francisco Baykeeper.

The coalition is hosting these upcoming events in the Bay Area:

  • Wednesday, June 19, 11 a.m.: Toxics Tour with Bay Area elected officials
    Take a guided tour of the Bay Area’s refineries and learn about the toxic pollution that people living near the refineries experience every day. This event is by invite only, but reporters are welcome to attend. Contact info@protectthebay.org with questions or to RSVP.

  • July, date TBA: Toxics Tour with community members
    Take a guided tour of the Bay Area’s refineries and learn about the toxic pollution that people living near the refineries experience every day. This event is open to the public, and reporters are welcome to attend. Contact info@protectthebay.org with questions or to RSVP. 

QUOTES FROM COALITION MEMBERS

“Our community knows refinery expansions are a dead end. We need our public officials like the Contra Costa County supervisors to stand with us in preventing new pollution sources from harming our health, and supporting real solutions like a just transition for refinery workers and local economic development that protects air and water quality.” — Isabella Zizi, Stand.earth

“Phillips 66’s reckless plans to increase tanker deliveries to its wharf and refine tar sands at its Rodeo refinery are opposed by tens of thousands of Bay Area residents. These plans endanger our neighbors living near that refinery and the entire San Francisco Bay, and they worsen an already severe climate crisis. People power stopped an oil terminal in Pittsburg, and oil train projects in Benicia and San Luis Obispo. We won’t rest until Phillips 66’s tar sands proposals are dead in the water.” — Shoshana Wechsler, Sunflower Alliance

“The refinery’s latest plan to expand dilbit imports, cracking of that bitumen, and recovery of those diluent oils threatens to lock in a worst-case future for our climate, air, health, safety, and Bay. People have a right to know about this unnecessary threat.” — Greg Karras, Communities for a Better Environment

“The small towns of Rodeo and nearby Crockett are ‘ground zero’ for tar sands processing in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s not just us who will be affected. Sounds from increased tanker traffic will negatively impact the already stressed, killer whale population and hasten its long-term slide to extinction. Equally important, is the plight of the indigenous communities of Alberta, Canada whose waterways and lands have been devastated by tar sands mining. It is our sincere hope that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors stand in solidarity with the people they are tasked to serve and do what’s right for the West Coast.” — Nancy Rieser, Crockett-Rodeo United Defend the Environment

“Rodeo Citizens and our neighbors throughout Contra Costa County have been overwhelmed with toxic chemical releases from this refinery. The asthma rate in Contra Coast County school children is higher than surrounding areas, as is the cancer rate when compared to the national average.” — Janet Pygeorge, Rodeo Citizens Association

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, 510-858-9902, press@protectthebay.org