“Winning that lawsuit was one of the biggest victories in Northern California for environmental justice activists, at least in the last 10 years,” said Corburn. “The fact that you could challenge one of the biggest multinational corporations on their home turf, and get the judges to rule that they were not disclosing appropriate information on environmental impacts and exposures, and to de-certify what the city of Richmond had already approved,” he said, “was a significant victory.”
The company has reduced the project and is currently redoing the environmental impact report. Velasco said the proposal will come up for city approval next year.
According to Ritchie, the revised project will be smaller, omitting a new catalytic reformer and cogeneration energy plant. The new hydrogen plant, which will allow the company to increase fuel production, will remain, as well as equipment to more efficiently handle higher sulfur-content crude oil. Ritchie said the refinery already processes some of this oil, so the changes do not mean Chevron will use heavier crude than it did in the past. “Of course, it’s not about what goes into the refinery, but more importantly, it’s about what goes out,” she said.
Richmond’s multi-ethnic coalition is already gearing up for another battle over the proposal, Soto said.
But Nompraseurt says he is not worried now that the people have clout. “We cannot say this is only African American community issue, only Latino community issue,” he said. “All our communities, we understand that we need to work together.” Although it took a long time for the ethnic groups to overcome suspicions of each other and unite in their fight, “they cannot divide us anymore,” Nompraseurt said,
“They might have money, but they don’t have people like us.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.