Environmental Group Settles with Air District Over Chevron Project Litigation

A California environmental group has settled with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District months after it sued the district over permits for Chevron’s $1 billion refinery modernization project in Richmond.

Communities for a Better Environment announced today that it had resolved litigation against the air district after district officials agreed to fully review an environmental impact report for Chevron’s modernization project certified by the Richmond City Council in July.

The group initially filed suit against the district because it claimed that the district renewed an earlier permit for the modernization project before waiting for the city to vote on the environmental impact report. Courts rejected permits for the refinery plan in 2009 and 2010 after CBE and other environmental organizations sued and alleged that the environmental impact report did not adequately explain the project’s effects on the community.

In July, the City Council approved a new EIR for the project that included greater restrictions on air emissions from the modernization project and a smaller-scale expansion.

In a statement released today, CBE attorney Roger Lin said, “”This is a significant victory for the community: the opportunity to get emissions cuts using available modern technology. Rubber-stamping the permit without a proper environmental review simply did not allow that.”

Air district spokesman Ralph Borrmann said the agreement “commits us to do what we would be doing anyway,” and that it “acted appropriately by waiting for the City of Richmond to issues their EIR before deciding whether to reissue a permit” for Chevron’s project.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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