Monday, June 9, 2008

Chevron plant CBA update.

The Contra Costa Times reported on Thursday that local officials in Richmond, California, have approved a limit on the amount and type of crude oil that an upgraded Chevron plant will be able to process. The specifics of the cap, including the permitted sulfur content of crude and whether certain processes will be more restricted than others, will be determined soon.

Aside from concerns about emissions and global warming, community members are concerned that if Chevron upgrades its equipment, it might begin processing greater volumes of contaminated crude, contributing to localized pollution and health problems. Chevron, on the other hand, says that replacing its 40-70 year old machinery with safer and more efficient models will lead to no change in overall emissions, even if output increases.

(photo: Contra Costa Times. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin stands in front of a wheel of misfortune during protests. Among the slices are flaring, accidents, spills, mercury exposure and asthma.)

However, while the planning commission has been focusing on the crude cap, it removed the "CBA" provisions from the proposed permit. These provisions would have provided $1 million for job training and created an urban forest, among other things. Although the commission will forward the 5 community benefits provisions to the city council for consideration, the commissioners explained that they removed the provisions because "it is unfair to require Chevron to do what other businesses aren't mandated to perform."

Well, that depends on how you look at it, I suppose. Lots of regulations impose tough requirements on certain kinds of businesses in order to offset their negative impacts. A crude cap is a good example. And a CBA in this case (were it actually negotiated by the community and not by the planning commission) wouldn't have to be required; one of the beauties of CBAs is that they are voluntarily negotiated and agreed to.

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