A coalition of 20 local, national and international organizations submitted comment letters on the draft environmental review of two refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area that are attempting to extend the life of their antiquated industrial facilities with a conversion to manufacturing largely soy-based ‘drop-in’ diesel and jet fuels.

Contra Costa County is host to one of California’s, and indeed, the Pacific Rim’s largest concentrations of liquid fuels refining infrastructure and capacity. Earlier this fall, in October, County land use authorities simultaneously released the Draft Environmental Impact Reports for both the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery and the Marathon Petroleum Company Martinez refinery proposals to convert to biofuels, unleashing a tidal wave of documentation on a concerned community.

On Friday, December 17, at the close of the 60 day public comment period, the coalition of organizations, lead by the legal expertise of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, San Francisco Baykeeper and Communities for a Better Environment, submitted detailed comment letters on the draft environmental review documentation for both refinery conversions.

The letters provide details as to why the draft environmental review of these unprecedented projects fails to meet the legal standards required by the California Environmental Quality Act. Describing how the law requires more than the limited and uninformative documentation provided to the public to assess the proposed refinery conversions, the letters list key deficiencies in the review.

These deficiencies include faulty project descriptions and failures to adequately consider safety impacts, air quality impacts, marine impacts, climate impacts, and, of particular concern to Biofuelwatch, the global environmental and human rights impacts from the anticipated massive increased demand in high deforestation risk commodities like soy.

Of tremendous concern is that regulatory authorities had received extensive comment addressing these topics during the scoping of the projects, but the County chose to completely ignore this information in their Draft Environmental Impact Reports, resulting in “woefully deficient” documentation.

In a review process surrounded by irregularities and opacity, these scathing comment letters provide evidence that the County needs to put away their rubber stamp for these biofuel refinery conversions. Local and state authorities must follow state law and fulfill their responsibilities to protect the public interest by submitting these refinery projects to thorough scrutiny. It is an imperative that the assumptions being tossed about to paint these potentially disastrous refinery conversions as a climate solution are challenged, and that the communities concerns about public health and safety are heard.

See the comment letter on the Marathon Martinez refinery project here: MARATHON DEIR COMMENT

See the comment letter on the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery project here: RODEO RENEWED DEIR COMMENT

The organizations signing the comment letters are Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Biofuelwatch, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Communities for a Better Environment, Citizen Air Monitoring Network, Community Energy reSource, Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area, Fossil Free California, Friends of the Earth – US, Interfaith Climate Action Network of Contra Costa County, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Rodeo Citizens Association, San Francisco Baykeeper, Stand.Earth, Sunflower Alliance, The Climate Center, and 350 Contra Costa.

For background information:

KPFA Terra Verde – Fenceline Tour of P66 Refinery in Rodeo Exposes Hard Realities of Proposed Conversion to Biofuels

KPFA Terra Verde – San Francisco Bay Area Biofuels Refinery Permitting Requires Scrutiny