Chevron to investigate flaring incident

Chevron announced this week it has initiated a root cause analysis to determine what caused the flaring incident at the Richmond Refinery on Dec. 18 that alarmed residents.

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Chevron announced this week it has initiated a root cause analysis to determine what caused the flaring incident at the Richmond Refinery on Dec. 18 that alarmed residents.

A team of experts assembled by the company is in the early stages of the investigation, according a letter submitted to the Contra Costa Health Services Department hazardous materials director Randall Sawyer. The investigation team will also include representation from the United Steel Workers, the primary union representing workers at the refinery. The company has also pledged to share the results with local officials including Sawyer’s department, the Bay Air Quality Management District, City of Richmond and the public.

The root cause analysis is an in-depth response to community concerns about the incident and also a follow-up to the 72-hour report that Chevron submitted to the county on Friday (See the full report below).

The community was concerned the incident was a fire, but as the 72-hour report indicates, the unplanned flaring incident occurred as part of the refinery’s safety system that enabled the depressurizing and shutdown of its Solvent De-Asphalting (SDA) Unit. A loss of cooling in the unit initiated the safety flaring.

The root cause analysis will probe what happened in the SDA Unit that required that it be taken offline.

The report indicated no health impact to the community. The fence line and community air monitoring stations reported all the levels were below state and federal health limits.

Here’s the full 72-hour report:

72hourreport.12-2572hourreport.12-25-172hourreport.12-25-272hourreport.12-25-372hourreport.12-25-472hourreport.12-25-572hourreport.12-25-6

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Chevron: Why the 2014 Election mattered

For more than 112 years, the Richmond Refinery has been proud to serve as a vital part of Richmond –creating jobs for residents, supporting small businesses that drive the local economy, paying taxes that fund essential public services and supporting programs that train workers and prepare students for the future.

The policies enacted at the local level help determine how businesses, big and small, can be successful. The question for Richmond is: Will local leaders recognize that business is integral to the city’s success? Or, will city leaders continue to oppose efforts to create growth, preferring instead to watch the business climate – and the prosperity that business helps generate – decline.

chevron-richmond-refinery-modernization-projectOur position is that the city needs the former. We are willing to invest in the future of the city with our $1 billion modernization project, which would create a newer, safer, cleaner refinery that is better for Richmond and its citizens. The Richmond Refinery already provides jobs for 2,200 people and supports scores of local suppliers who depend on our business and modernization will create more opportunities.

Chevron has been fully transparent regarding our participation in this election. We provided funding through Moving Forward, an independent expenditure campaign committee that includes local labor unions, businesses and public safety organizations. This money was used to fund direct communication with voters so they could make informed decisions about which candidates are best able to lead Richmond.

The amount of money we spent to inform voters must be viewed in the context of the more than $500 million in local taxes, social investment and spending on local vendors from Chevron over the past five years, and our $90 million social and environmental commitment to the city that will follow once our $1 billion refinery modernization is allowed to proceed.

As the city’s largest employer and with such a large investment in this city, Chevron chose to participate in the election to make sure its voice was heard, and to provide the resources to help inform voters.

Chevron respects and acknowledges the outcome of the election. Going forward, our intention is to work with the new City Council to find common ground and to continue advocating for sound policies that allow Richmond to grow and thrive.

This city, which we have proudly called home for so long, has far more opportunities than challenges. We hope the council will focus on realizing those opportunities. Chevron will continue to partner with those in the city who want to turn those opportunities into reality and thereby improve the lives of all residents of Richmond.

This official statement from the Chevron Corporation original appeared in the Richmond Standard

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Cheapest gasoline in Concord

cheap gas in ConcordCheap gas has always been a great feature of Concord, California. But where inside Concord is the cheapest gasoline?

It was not too long ago, in October of 2012 to be exact, that gasoline was selling for $5.00 a gallon or more. Now, the cheapest gasoline is hovering around $3.00 a gallon.

A survey of 14 Concord gasoline stations on Saturday, November 15, 2014, reveals where a motorist can obtain the cheapest gasoline in Concord.

See the nearby image to find the cheapest gasoline in Concord.Clcik thru the image to find the cheapest gas throughout the Bay Area.

The prices listed do not include the usual 9/10th of a cent per gallon that makes up the final retail price. Also, note some gasoline stations charge extra for using a credit or debit card. Some require memberships like Costco and Safeway.

Happy Motoring.

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Mayoral candidate smears For Richmond community group

Recently, For Richmond was unwillingly drawn into Richmond mayoral race discussion via a mass email distributed by candidate and city councilman Tom Butt.

Tom Butt smears For Richmond community groupIn an Aug. 18 alert to his e-forum, Butt decried Chevron-funded billboards supporting his political opponent and fellow councilman Nat Bates. Butt also claimed:

“If Bates weren’t already close enough to Chevron, his campaign headquarters shares a building at 3101-3109 Macdonald Avenue with 4Richmond, a thinly disguised front used by Chevron to distribute money to Richmond non-profits [sic].”

Let me be clear: As an independent, nonprofit organization, For Richmond doesn’t advocate for political candidates, we advocate for the people of Richmond–for their education, health, prosperity and safety.

We wear our Chevron funding as a badge of honor on our website for all the world to see—no disguise and with complete transparency. We are HONORED to be a part of Chevron’s far-reaching community investments and are grateful to them—as are legions of our local nonprofit counterparts—for their dependable and generous support.

For Richmond also has never been “used by Chevron” to distribute money to other Richmond nonprofits as Butt contends. The local community organizations and efforts For Richmond supports are not dictated by Chevron. As Executive Director, I make that decision—end of story.

Trivializing the efforts of For Richmond’s hardworking team—all of them Richmond residents—as merely doling out money to other nonprofits, is also completely misleading.

Our hands-on work has taken many forms, from advocating for causes like the WCCC Family Justice Center and Doctors Medical Center. We have organized an out-of-state college prep program for Richmond students this summer (as reported by the West County Times), as well as worked on countless other community endeavors.

Our ‘Barrier Removal Program’ is our most recent highlight and one I am very proud of. To date 250+ Richmond residents have been assisted with becoming more employable, 43 have been accepted into a construction trade industry pre-apprentice program and 26 have obtained full time employment within a variety of Bay Area construction companies. For Richmond is working one-on-one with the remainder of the residents on ensuring that they too surpass their barriers (i.e. – obtaining their GED, drivers license and math preparation for entrance level exams) to meet the qualifications and criteria to obtaining employment.

nat-bates-for-richmondCouncilman Bates’ decision to become our neighbor on Macdonald Avenue, though welcome, has absolutely no correlation with For Richmond. We do not make renting decisions for this space, our landlord does.

Our community is a community in need. For Richmond’s work involves joining people together from throughout our city to develop solutions to those needs. It’s what this community has asked for and it’s also a key reason we’ve been so successful to date.

What Richmond doesn’t need? Misleading politically motivated missives—when we all should be entirely focused on the betterment of our community.

~ Kyra Worthy, is the Executive Director of For Richmond, is a 501c3 comprised of neighborhood, labor, public safety, clergy and business leaders in Richmond California that have united on specific actions in key areas of job growth, healthcare, safety, and education.

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Richmond extortion of Chevron creates slush funds for more West County dysfunction

Representing a Countywide group I attended the City of Richmond City Council meetings on July 22 and July 29, regarding the approval of the Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization project. The meeting reminded me of an old joke whose punchline is “we’ve already agreed you are a whore, we are just negotiating the price.”

richmond-city-councilUltimately, approval of the project was not about the safety of the refinery or the health of the workers and residents of the city. Those issues have been agreed upon and validated by environmental organizations such as the BAAQMD. When the project is completed more air pollution will come from the I-80 Freeway than the refinery.

Then why was the project stalled?

The contentious portion of the “deal” is the bribery payments that were demanded by the city and community groups and finally agreed to by Chevron. At the July 22nd meeting an attorney for the City presented a PowerPoint presentation showing the agreed upon framework for the City’s demands was in-place with the city’s extortion demand more than $300 million, in three categories.

The first two programs include

1) a “Direct Funding” program to fund scholarships, job training, free internet, Public Safety, a branding study, a community health center and a family justice center;

2) a second program, the “Community GHG Reduction Fund” would fund four climate change elements in the City, including Transportation, a Climate Action Plan, Urban Forestry, and roof-top solar, energy retrofits, a City of Richmond Ordinance update and “additional programs.”

These two programs were projected to exist for 10 years and cost Chevron $60 million. City Council members and community organizations complained that $60 million was not enough and demanded $90 million.

The remaining approximately $240 million in was in the form of an $8 million bribery slush fund (should be its actual name) provided annually to the city between 2015 and 2050 by Chevron, supposedly for “green jobs”, but actually for whatever the city wanted to do.

At the July 29th City of Richmond meeting the Council granted Chevron’s request for the modernization project. Before the session the city and Chevron agreed to the demand for the $90 million bribery fund. Gone was the demand for $8 million per year until 2050; added was the City of Richmond demand that Chevron fund Doctor’s hospital for $27 million. Ultimately, this demand was dropped by the city.

If one wants to see what will happen to the money “donated” by Chevron, one should look at Newark, New Jersey. In 2011, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the Newark school system. Other charities matched some of the Zuckerburg $100 million. Announced on the Oprah Winfrey show, Newark Democratic Mayor, Cory Booker, described how the funding would change the lives of thousands of low income students and families. He talked about education being the cornerstone of rising out of poverty to quality middle class jobs and lives.

It is now 2014. Cory Booker is a Senator from New Jersey (he was right, it changed his life). The entire $100 million from Zuckerburg and all the matching dollars have been spent. According to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker magazine, and other national news media, few, if any, dollars have found its way into a classroom. The money was spent on consultants, community organizations, a new school superintendent, employee (union) compensation, and attorneys; in other words, all the same people that will benefit in Richmond. Or, as Vivian Cox Fraser, the president of the Urban League of Essex County said when asked about the $100 million, “Everybody’s getting paid, but Raheem still can’t read.”

According to the Contra Costa Times, Chevron already pays approximately one-third of the taxes in the city and funds about $5 million annually in community grants for education and workforce development. Indeed, the City of Richmond already has the power to tax and the power to implement or increase fees for services performed.

The city’s demands of Chevron are neither, but can only be classified as extortion and a perfect example how the city and community groups have and continue to fail within the city.

Note well, as you read below all the programs that are already in-place; the Chevron “donations” will not change this failure; they will only enlarge it.

Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of some of the significant funding agreed to by Chevron:

Guaranteed Payments: $5 million

Chevron agreed to $5 million in payments over five years to “help with the city’s $6 million budget deficit.”

Yeah, this will cut the budget deficit. California governments are known for immediately spending any windfall they receive.

There will be raises everywhere in City Hall, expenditures for every program will rise (the city council discussed one on the same July 29 meeting the Modernization plan was approved), city paid meals will appear at every meeting. The number of employees with car allowances will rise; departments will get dozens of new employees. Then in five years the money will be gone and the city’s deficit will be bigger than it is today.

For right now, however, “Joy to the World” is blaring from every room in City Hall.

Scholarship money for Richmond High school students: $35 Million

Chevron and the City will establish a non-profit foundation to run this program. The program will “guarantee the ability of Richmond residents to pursue higher education and secure meaningful employment, including pursuing careers in research and development, engineering, and renewable energy fields.”

I feel better about this program knowing that Chevron will be actively involved in it and, it appears, the funding will pay for hard science and business programs, not programs like sociology, women’s or ethnic studies or, in other words, jobs that qualify one to be a barista or sit in Starbuck’s and debate social justice issues.

Yea, STEM, education and training related to refinery operations and business programs. Want to bet how long it will take for this program to “pivot” and fund soft skills and wacko subjects? One year? Two?

Then again, the State already provides $1.2 billion in CalGrant scholarships annually for most high school graduates in California, and $500 million in middle Class grants. The federal government has multiple education grant programs and the U.C. system has several scholarship programs, the result being that U.C. students whose families make less than $80,000 per year pay no tuition or fees. The Community College system in California waives fees and tuition for 300,000+ students annually and 350,000 CSU students pay no fees or tuition.

One has to wonder why a separate Richmond program is necessary. Richmond residents will, in effect, be “tripling down” on education money.

Programs relating to skills, Job Training, and readiness, and Job transition training: $6 million

The city will fund “programs relating to skills, job training and readiness, and job transition training in the trades related to project construction, or operations, in technical and services fields that support the refinery and in the emerging field of renewable energy, as well as to promote local hiring.”

Funding will be allocated in amounts determined by the City and will fund apprenticeship programs in conjunction with various unions. Training includes, but is not limited to, carpentry, forms and concrete, hazardous materials, lead, asbestos, energy efficiency and solar installation.

The program will also fund a “Business Assistance and Capacity Building Program” (having a business degree and forty years in business, this term was unfamiliar to me. So I did a search and, sure enough, this moniker is new fuzzy term attributed to the United Nations, the National Council for Non-profits (and other non-productive groups), or to support existing business assistance and capacity building programs administered by other organizations.

The fund will also augment On The Job Training (OTJT) programs to provide wage subsidies for businesses that hire Richmond residents, fund Adult Education and Skill building programs such as RichmondWORKS and Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP) and fund expansion of the Youth Employment and Skill Building programs that “enhances the readiness of Richmond youth for employment in petro-chemical or renewable energy related fields.”

This bucket of money will also fund job transition training, target the “re-entry” population for employment and support entrepreneurship for youth, women and disadvantaged groups.

Whew. Sounds like every single living being in Richmond will be so busy transitioning, training and capacity building that no one will have time to work. Richmond will be a bee hive of activity, but employment will stay at the same level.

Public Safety Programs: $2 million

Richmond already, as pointed out by the Contra Costa Times, has twice as many policemen as other cities in the County of the same size. The Fire Department is, if not the highest paid fire department in the County, one of the highest paid, so it could be interesting to see where this money goes. Maybe to “transitioning”?

The pool of funds will also be used to pay for finishing the Family Justice Center.

Free Internet Access: $1 million

Sure. It would be un-Progressive to not include free internet access for someone.

Competitive Grant Program: $6 million over the first seven years

A full complement of programs to basically make up for the breakdown in families in our society and for the failure of the West Contra Costa school district. These programs include non-academic resources to the schools, and the implementation of the currently in vogue “Restorative Justice” practices within the schools.

The money will also fund summer camps and provide for “culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate” student and parent engagement and education in academic and career pathways (more transitioning).

The programs within the set of grants will be coordinated with the WCCUSD Local Control Accountability Plan (the Governor’s infusion of cash into low income schools) and the WCCUSD Strategic Plan. This funding will focus on building “a range of skills for infants, children and youth, including personal, academic and technical skills.” You can never be too young to be transitioning and pathwaying your way around the city of Richmond.

In other words, this set of programs used to be called PARENTS.

Finally, the money from these grants will be used to plan, build, and deliver care services by Community Health Centers and fund in-home community-based asthma prevention programs. This is otherwise known as the failure of ObamaCare.

Community Based Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs $30 million over ten years

With a few exceptions, these programs are basically enhancements to the city’s budget, proposed under politically correct names.

Electric City and EasyGo is a transportation program, funded with $18 of the $30 million that “may” (or not) include a “City bike sharing program, vehicle purchases by the city, charging stations for the city’s vehicles, electricity costs for the City’s vehicle fleet and to cover the city’s costs of converting to zero emission vehicles.”

This fund is also meant to “improve mobility” for Richmond residents through improvements in “walkability,” BART alternatives, public transit, reduced price transit passes, bike paths, bike share and shuttle service and to support the existing “EasyGo” program.

My favorite within the potpourri of items is to “promote shared use of specialty vacation vehicles such as SUVs.”
Then we have budget items of $1 million to help the city develop its Climate Action Plan, $2 million allocated to “Urban Forestry” (park improvements), $2,270,000 for “transportation and Transit Programs” which reads like the above Electric City and Easy Go.

Then there is $6,250,000 for “roof-top Solar, Energy retrofit, city of Richmond Zoning Ordinance update and “additional programs”. Although not clear, this looks like solar for city buildings (not resident homes and buildings) and a lot of new staff or consultant work to be doled out to re-write those pesky zoning ordinances.

Finally, and it is a big finally, Chevron “will provide” 60 acres of Chevron land adjacent to Richmond Parkway for the development of a utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm by Marin Clean Energy. The land is valued at $10 million and will be leased to MCE for $1 per year. MCE will then use its “best effort” to employ a labor force composed of minimally 50% Richmond residents.

Expect a bevy of new laws, ordinances, environmental and other regulations to be enacted to help this monster get become operational. I can only hope the news media will provide extensive coverage of every aspect of the project. My prayers go out to the Chevron folks who must be associated with the project.

Richmond in 2025

What will Richmond look like in ten years from all this funding and social justice program building. I am sure it is clear my vision is very different than the vision of the city council and Richmond community groups.

I see a community where a bribery slush fund intersecting with a poverty apprenticeship program will create total dysfunction, ten years of chaos and fighting, misallocation, and the disappearance of funds, the growth of dependency, and the decline of responsibility.

I have little faith (actually none) that government can teach self-reliance, self-respect, independence, industriousness, and entrepreneurship. Just as you cannot, for example, get someone out of the criminal justice system by putting them on probation, you can’t put someone in a massive entitlement world and expect positive self-supporting behavior.

I have begun thinking of all the programs listed in the agreement as a dream today, becoming nothing more than a nightmare in the future and a corrupting influence on the city and its budget. You do not want to be in Richmond when the teat of entitlement ends in ten years and “Raheem still can’t read.”

I have one final forecast and suggestion: unless prohibited, look for the Mayor, city council members and other city employees to go to work as lobbyists or employees in the groups they agree to fund, or as contractors for them. Instead, all should be required to sign agreements that they will not and cannot work for any group, sub-contractors, or suppliers to groups funded by the city under this agreement.

Ultimately, the Richmond-Chevron agreement is an ages old morality play with insanity, greed, folly, and corruption on full display.

If you are worried about the corrupting power of government, the growth of entitlements and wondering where American jobs have gone since the recession started, I urge you to follow this plan over the next ten years. I also encourage people to attend future Richmond City Council meetings to watch what will be gripping on-going sessions on this agreement.

Richmond’s extortion of Chevron may be one of the greatest examples of the insatiable greed, raw power, and incompetence of government exhibited in the country for years and the open viewing of the corrupt nature of the Progressive movement.

It is sad, but one hell of a show.

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Chevron agrees to alternative plan for Richmond Refinery Modernization

Chevron U.S.A. Inc.’s Richmond Refinery (Chevron Richmond) says it has agreed to “accept the environmentally superior alternative” to its Richmond Refinery Modernization Plan. The announcement comes in advance of this evening’s (July 22, 2014) Richmond City Council meeting where that body will hear public comments on the project and then make a final decision on the project at its July 29 meeting.

In previous meetings, the Richmond Council had approved the original environmental impact report (EIR), and plan, and took action to fast track permitting for the project. But opponents of the plan “as is” intensely lobbied the city’s Planning Commission which instead voted unanimously to accept one of the so-called “environmentally superior” plans outlined by the EIR and was championed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Chevron’s decision to accept the alternative plan comes after it announced that it had “grave concerns over conditions placed on the approval.”

Chevron has also proposed a $60 million Environmental and Community Investment Agreement as part of the Modernization Project proposal, that Chevron says “ensures the project will deliver even more benefits to Richmond.”

According to Chevron’s statement today

The City of Richmond’s expert permitting team put forward a comprehensive and robust set of recommendations for consideration by the City Council above and beyond what is required by law.  Chevron Richmond is prepared to accept all of the conditions recommended by the City’s permitting team, including certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and approval of a Conditional Use Permit. Chevron Richmond has also proposed a $60 million Environmental and Community Investment Agreement that will fund programs in Richmond and North Richmond to reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally, create green jobs, send Richmond students to college, train residents for careers, provide grants for local nonprofit organizations and other programs identified by residents at recent public workshops.

“I appreciate that Chevron took the time to listen to this community to determine the most important areas that need funding in Richmond, including education,” said Madeline Kronenberg, Board Member of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. “I urge the City Council to approve this project as the City Staff proposed so that more local students can go to college. This will fundamentally change the lives of these young people in our community by giving them a college education.”

Additionally, Chevron Richmond has now agreed to accept the environmentally superior alternative, referred to as Alternative 11 in the final EIR, the adoption of which is supported by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.  Alternative 11 limits the amount of sulfur that the refinery can process and ensures refinery greenhouse gas emissions will not increase. Alternative 11 also results in additional reductions in health risks and other emissions.

“This project is environmental justice done right. The Modernization Project is a much safer and better project than the original proposed Renewal project,” said Dr. Henry Clark of West County Toxics Coalition. “I am pleased that Chevron has accepted Alternative 11 and listened to what I and this community have been asking them to do for many years –a project that reduces emissions in North Richmond, a part of our community that is overlooked.”

The $1 billion investment to modernize the refinery will replace some of the facility’s oldest processing equipment with more modern technology that is inherently safer and meets some of the nation’s toughest air quality standards.

“Over the last three years, we have listened closely to our neighbors’ feedback on modernization, which has resulted in the gold standard for Refinery projects and will result in an even better project,” said Kory Judd, Refinery General Manager. “I am proud of this project and the benefits that it will bring to this community, including a decrease in health risks and emissions as well as community investments in areas of concern for Richmond.”

The main project components include replacing a 1960s hydrogen plant with more modern technology that is inherently safer, cleaner and 20 percent more energy efficient. The new plant will produce higher-quality hydrogen more efficiently and reliably. The project will give the refinery flexibility to process crude oil blends, including higher levels of sulfur, while meeting strict environmental regulations. In addition, the project will be constructed with flanges, valves, and other components that are consistent with Best Available Control Technology (BACT), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s standard for regulating air pollution under the Clean Air Act.

 

 

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