January 17, 2017

Bay Area refinery updates

Map by Bob Newey.

Map by Bob Newey.

In the February-March Yodeler (page 3–”Keeping the dirtiest fuels out of the Bay Area”) we wrote about the Bay Chapter’s BAC-OFF campaign: Bay Area Communities Overcoming Fossil Fuels. Below are updates on the locations discussed then.

Phillips 66 update

Possibly as soon as May the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will hear the appeal of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Phillips 66’s “refinery modernization” .

Phillips 66 wants to construct six huge propane storage tanks and two new rail spurs to ship propane and butane (abundant bypro­ducts from refining dirty tar sands and Bakkan crude) out of the facility.

This project, by facilitating the use of high carbon intensity oils, increases the dangers of global climate change. In addition, the project raises important local concerns:

  • The rail spur and the pipe complex (that would connect the propane tanks to the trains) would be sited on a liquefaction zone next to the Bay.
  • A propane explosion at the Rodeo facility, like the one that injured eight people at a propane plant in Florida over the summer and the one that killed 15 workers in Texas in 2005, would pose a major threat to both workers and Rodeo residents living along the facility’s fence-line.
  • This project would bring a dramatic increase of explosive, dirty tanker trains barreling through wetlands, by the Bay, and through towns and cities.
  • The Phillips 66 refinery, though much smaller than the behemoth Chevron facility, produces twice the emissions. We don’t need any more air pollution in the area.


To get involved in changing this proposal and to be informed of the next steps, contact Sierra Club Bay Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at jess@sfbaysc.org or (510)848-0800, ext. 304.

Nancy Rieser


The WesPac Energy Infrastructure Pro­ject in Pittsburg would bring in 242,000 barrels per day of crude oil by rail and tanker, storing it in a tank farm and sending it by pipeline to local refineries. The project, on the Bayshore just one mile from downtown Pittsburg, would significantly expand the combined capacity of local refineries. Key concerns about the project include local air pollution, the hazards of transporting oil by rail, and the climate impacts of allowing increased refining of Canadian tar-sands oil. Tracks would be virtually across the street from residences. Local organizations have collected over 4,500 signatures on petitions opposing the project.

On Feb. 18 the Pittsburg City Council announced that it will reopen sections of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project to public comment. This announcement came after many months of canvassing, rallying, lobbying, and building community power to fight for the health, safety, and environmental integrity of Pittsburg.

WesPac may try to propose a mitigated project, but the health and safety risks of crude by rail are impossible to mitigate.


The date is not set for the DEIR to be re-opened.

To work with the Club on this issue, contact conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at jess.dervin-ackerman@sierraclub.org or (510)848-0800.

To learn about volunteer opportunities through the Pittsburg Defense Council, visit http://pittsburgdc.org.


The Sierra Club, along with many other environmental and community organizations, continues to fight the proposal to bring in crude oil by rail tanker cars to the Valero refinery in Benicia. Release of the project’s Draft EIR has been postponed until some time in April, after which there will be a 45-day comment period.


To work with the Sierra Club on this concern, contact conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at jess@sfbaysc.org or (510)848-0800, ext. 304.

Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community is a local Benicia organization focusing on this campaign. It will be sponsoring a number of events (these are not Sierra Club events) including:

  • Benicia Toxics Tour—March 29;
  • planning meeting—April 12;
  • Connect the Dots, monthly walk/ride actions between different big oil-project towns—Pittsburg, Martinez, Benicia, Crockett/Rodeo, and Richmond—May 17, tentatively June 14.

For details see:




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