Court sides against Chevron
on May 1, 2010
Chevron’s plans to expand operations to refine a wider range of crude oil have been halted by a California court.
The state Court of Appeals ruled last week that the multinational energy corporation produced an environmental impact report that did not sufficiently address questions of air pollution impacts on the local community.
The ruling left open the opportunity for Chevron to address the questions in a future report.
The ruling is the latest development in a five-year wrangle between the corporation and environmental groups that oppose the expansion in the refinery’s operations.
Antonia Juhasz, an author and the director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based human rights organization, hailed the court ruling as a major victory.
“Through years of grassroots organizing, education, legal efforts and protest, the community held
strong and prevailed,” Juhasz said. “Sometimes, we do win.”
Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen said the company will continue to review the court’s 35-page opinion and “our options going forward.”
“Needless to say, we are disappointed with the court’s opinion,” Tippen said. “We continue to believe that both the evidence and the law amply support the adequacy of the city’s environmental impact report, and that the project’s environmental and reliability improvements are significant.”
Juhasz said the court rejected the report in part because Chevron “lied” in making earlier claims to the Richmond City Council about its intent to process heavier grades of crude.
A divided City Council approved the plan, which promised jobs and increased revenues to the city, but it was subsequently halted but a lawsuit filed by the West County Toxics Coalition and other environmental groups.
Opponents claim the expansion could increase pollutants in the city 50-fold; a claim Chevron disputes.
“We will continue to work hard on the project,” Tippen said. “Now more than ever, we will continue to focus on safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation of the refinery.”
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