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PTA volunteers Nora Ponce (L) and Erika Cruces Franco (R) stand on a Richmond street with a poster advertising a school event.

People of Richmond: Should Chevron pay higher fines for flaring?

on September 2, 2023

People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.

Q: Should California increase the fines Chevron and other refineries have to pay for excessive flaring?

“I mean, their profits are exponential and considering the community that they serve that are so underserved, and the impact it’s having on the community on the waterways, on the sewage, on just breathing in air quality, they absolutely should increase those fines, you know, as it directly impacts the community that they are unfortunately damaging to a certain degree.”

(Nora Ponce, Washington Elementary PTA volunteer, pictured at top left)

“If they are going to raise the fines and it is not going to be extra support for the communities, then I don’t think it is necessary. But if they are going to make that move and it’s really going to be reflected for the community and school, then you’re welcome.”

(Erika Cruces Franco, PTA volunteer, pictured at top right)
Shana Cotright stands on a Richmond street smiling, in glasses, wearing a pink top and a purple sweater.

“They are probably a billion-dollar company, why shouldn’t they pay for that when you’re impacting a
whole city? … If a fire starts, then we have to all breathe the smoke. It’s impacting several different cities, so I think they should be fined heavily.” (Shana Cotright, county worker)

“Yeah, I mean, if they know they did pollute the air, they should pay Richmond. They
should pay some of us people that’s really sick and they need real attention.”

(Sheela Jackson, hairdresser)

“If they could clean up their act, maybe the fines would make them
think in the right direction of less pollution.”

(Dixie Miner, case administrator)

“Yes, I agree that they should increase the fines. They should also pay money to the people who are affected by it. I have COPD and asthma. It affects me, and the refineries don’t see us. They don’t understand the long-term effects we experience.” (Verlis Smith, retired)

Verlis Smith stands on a beach with his right arm in a sling, holding a cane, an oxygen tube in his nose and a black mask pulled under his mouth, wearing a cap and a gray hoodie.

Manuel Miranda stands in a cap tilted on his head, a blue shirt, tan pants and carrying a trash bag.

“Pues no se que decirle, por qué cómo están ayudando también – ¿verdad? – a la comunidad, no sé hasta qué nivel les ayuda …. Pues no se, pero cualquier cosa que se decida está bien, ¿verdad?” (Manuel Miranda)

Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer stands in a clothing store, wearing an orange top and beaded necklace.

“I mean, yes, we could use the money but why not stop some of this stuff from happening in the first place?” (Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer, CEO of Gratitude LLC)

Contra Costa College student Justin Sanchez sits at a table with his laptop closed in front of him, wearing a Jeff Gordon 24 T-shirt.

“I feel like they should increase the fines because it just happens, and they don’t care about the people. It would be a great decision for the community.” (Justin Sanchez, Contra Costa College student)

“Es mucha contaminación a la viento. Es mas barato dejar que la contaminación va al aire en lugar de mas abajo? Si es cierto, yo creo que merecen pagar.”

(Roberto Macario, construction worker)

“I have asthma now from the pollution of the air. But I know they give the city a lot of money and to help give funding to local small organizations to support. I do appreciate that … I think they should increase fines. I think they should support the local families in the community. I think they should support more, absolutely.” (Bendrick Foster, executive director New Life Movement.)

Sarita De Leon in black hoodie and big gold hoop earings stands with her arms folded

“Regardless of increasing the fines or not, they will always find a way to go around it. That’s how it is.” (Sarita De Leon, restaurant employee)

Top photo by Alicia Chiang

Penalties for some Chevron flares would triple under bill in California Legislature

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