I'm currently working on a personal project about the communities of Richmond, California and their ongoing struggle with Chevron corporation. Here I've included a piece with some video and photos of the story so far. Chevron is looking to expand it's processing of dirtier crude at it's Richmond facility. Last fall the people of Richmond with the help of the West Counties Toxics Coalition, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Communities for a Better Environment filed a lawsuit against Chevron and the City of Richmond over the potential health impacts of such a proposal.
This is the story of a community struggling with the oil refinery in their backyard. Chevron wants to process dirtier crude at their Richmond, California facility and local residents are against it saying increased risks to their health have not been properly assessed. The residents are looking for a way forward that benefits the community and ensures economic and environmental sustainability.
The good news is that on April 26th 2010 the California State Court of Appeals upheld the findings of a lower court decision that the Environmental Impact Report provided by Chevron violated state environmental law in it's inadequacy. This is a major victory for the residents of Richmond but this story is not over yet. Chevron has been invited by the Attorney general and state legisaltors to come to Sacramento to negotiate with all concerned parties and come to a fair deal that would protect community health and get people back to work. They continue to delay.
With the current BP disaster we're reminded of the urgent need to reduce our dependency on oil and seek cleaner alternative energy sources. As California's largest polluter the EPA reported nearly 100,000lbs of toxic waste from the Richmond plant in 2007, damaging the health of people who live there. Asthma rates in Richmond are twice the national average. Chevron in Richmond, like oil companies everywhere cannot continue with business as usual. Its up to all of us everywhere to seek economic sustainability that is also environmental sustainability. That is what the people of Richmond seek. Not much to ask. However for a behemoth oil company like Chevron with a string of human rights abuses in Burma, Nigeria, Chad as well as toxic poisoning in Equador, Missisippi, Thailand, California to name a few, doing business in an equitable and sustainable manner is obviously not something high on their agenda. It's up to us to change that.