Sunday, July 27, 2008

Some criticism of the Chevron CBA

Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, and Tom Butt, a city council member, contributed an editorial to the Contra Costa Times yesterday criticizing the recent approval of the Chevron refinery upgrades. They had this to say about the so-called CBA:
The Community Benefits Agreement was negotiated between members of the council majority and Chevron and sprung on a few other surprised City Council members minutes before the July 15 hearing.

No public input or even public comment was allowed. Although gigantic flaws in the agreement came to light under questioning by other council members, the majority shut their ears and soldiered on to adoption.

Examples of egregious provisions are as follows:
  • $14.6 million for "Alternative Energy Funding" is in fact a simple business venture by Chevron. Chevron will spend this amount for renewable energy projects producing electricity it intends to sell to the city, retaining greenhouse gas offsets and tax credits for itself.
  • $6 million for "Environmental Benefits" will not come to the city at all. The "Environmental Benefits" are in fact watered-down versions of legitimate mitigations removed by the council majority from the conditional use permit. The money would be used by Chevron to pay for things like tank domes to reduce VOCs and ground level air monitoring, which the original CUP would have required anyway.
  • $5 million for the Bay Trail will not come to the city either. In the majority's version, $3 million of it is Chevron's grossly overestimated value of a small piece of land for a trail easement, and $2 million is for security upgrades along the trail to benefit Chevron, not the city. There is no money for the original CUP requirement for Chevron to donate right of way and pay for construction of a Bay Trail connection to the Point San Pablo Peninsula, replacing a dangerous bike route along I-580 that resulted in one death and one serious injury two years ago.
Stripped of all its scams, the Community Benefits Agreement is worth maybe $6 million, about the same amount Chevron used to buy off the City Council in 1994, not adjusted for inflation, which would make it even worse.

Richmond has been taken to the cleaners by this secret deal which sacrifices our health, environmental justice and democratic processes for a few paltry million dollars.

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