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Crosscurrents logo 2021

Richmond debates Chevron’s plan to modernize its oil refinery

Ronnie Cohen

For nearly a decade, Chevron and its neighbors in Richmond have been fighting over a proposal to retool the oil company’s refinery. Most everyone agrees the plant needs to be modernized, but they differ about how.

Chevron claims the proposed $1 billion project would make the refinery cleaner and safer. Environmentalists say the upgrade does too little to lower toxic emissions in a city plagued by high asthma rates. And it would do nothing to fix a part of the plant that caught fire and sent 15,000 people to the hospital in 2012. But some residents argue Richmond – one of the Bay Area’s poorest communities – needs the jobs the renovations would bring.

More than 400 people attended a Richmond City Council meeting last week to discuss the refinery’s future. The hearing continues Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. KALW’s Ronnie Cohen brings us a snapshot of last week's contentious meeting.

HENRY CLARK: Here we are talking today about zero net increase greenhouse gas and associated toxics. You can’t beat that. You should be trying to jump out an airplane to support a project like that.

Listen on the audio player above for the full interview.