Transcript: California Refineries: Obstacles and Challenges to Full Decommissioning (CA Climate Policy Summit 2024)

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Woody Hastings (00:23:05):
All right. Well, good afternoon folks. Again, my name’s Woody Hastings. I’m the phase out polluting fuels program manager with the Climate Center. Thank you all for joining us here for the Climate Summit 2024 third annual. And so this is the second afternoon breakout session in our themed series on phasing out polluting fuels, the state of California primarily fossil fuels. This morning we heard the panel on from the state agencies, Laquinn Ewen of the Natural Resources Agency, and Drew Bowen of the Energy Commission moderated by Catherine Gupa of Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. And then we heard about the campaign for Safe and Healthy California. We just finished the session on extraction issue. So now we’re going into refining the very difficult issue of refining in the state of California and how do we transition out of being a big oil production state. And so without any further ado, I would like to introduce the moderator for this session, Dr.

Elena Krieger, and I’m just going to read a little bit of what’s in the Whova app. I’m sure you’ve all downloaded the hova app and you’ve been using it and enjoying it and all that. I’m just going to read a little bit of this. There’s a lot more in there. Dr. Elena Krieger is the director of research at PSE Healthy Energy and Energy Science and Policy Research Institute based in Oakland. She serves as a principal investigator on numerous scientific research projects and simultaneously works closely with community organizations, nonprofits, policy makers, regulators, and other stakeholders to use data and science to inform energy policy decisions spot on work. So without any further ado, I’d like to have Elena come up and she’ll introduce our panelists. Thanks so much.

Elena Krieger (00:25:09):
Thank you, Woody. I’m Elena. I work, I’m based out of Oakland. We work on a broad range of projects, but one right now is focused on health outcomes associated with the refineries and refinery retirements in the Bay Area. Today our panel is California Refineries, obstacles and Challenges to Fold Decommissioning. I just wanted to start out before we go over to our wonderful panel with a little bit of background. California currently has 14 refineries down, I just actually looked up from 40 in the 1980s. They produce a broad range of fuels from California’s unique car Bob Mix to jet fuels, fuels for export asphalt. As this number has declined in recent years, some have retired, others have started to transition to things like biofuels, and of course the refineries are some of the largest sources of stationary air pollution in the state.

Many are located near environmental justice communities and contribute to compounding cumulative environmental health impacts in those areas. As we’ve been talking about throughout the day, in order to achieve the state’s climate targets, a managed decline of refineries along with all fossil fuels, would require the plan decommissioning of these facilities in parallel with reduction in gas demand across the state. But this transition period can trigger significant additional challenges. Smaller numbers of refineries, supply and limited competition, particularly if a refinery goes offline unexpectedly can result in price spikes, which we’ve all seen in the last few years. SBX one two, the California Gas price Gouging and transparency law passed last year in response to these price spikes and is aimed at both increasing the transparency around refiner price margins, and developing a transportation transition plan to ensure access to reliable and affordable fuel as the transitions away from fossil fuels across the board.

Meanwhile, a just transition requires numerous other elements such as ensuring a just transition for the thousands of refinery employees across the state and making sure that we achieve public health, justice and safety goals by reducing pollution quickly as possible, particularly near the state’s environmental justice communities, ensuring there’s sufficient funding to address cleanup and remediation. So we’re dealing with pollution, environmental justice, energy security, all sorts of possible things that our wonderful panel is going to try to tackle in about an hour. Today, I am joined by Julia May, who is a senior scientist with Communities for a Better Environment, who has been working on refinery issues alongside other environmental justice issues in the Bay Area and across California for decades by Norman Rogers, who is the second vice president of the United Steel Workers Local 6 75, and who works with the Marathon Oil Refinery in Los Angeles and by Dina Hurt, who wears too many hats to count, but two of which include as a board member of the California Air Resources Board and chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Julia’s going to start us off with an overview of the refinery landscape across California and related environmental justice, public health and safety issues.

Okay. So I’m from Communities for a Better Environment. We’re a frontline EJ organization organizing in Wilmington, California and Richmond. And we also have Southeast LA and East Oakland offices where people are heavily impacted by transportation. And I want to respond to one thing, even though there are smaller numbers of refineries in California, the capacity is bigger than ever. We have more big ones. We have not reduced refineries in California. In fact, it’s the last bastion of phase out fossil fuels. So the biggest challenge I understand this panel is called challenges to decommissioning refineries. We haven’t started, we have not decommissioning refineries. The transitions of a small number toward biofuels have been voluntary. There is no policy directing refineries to phase out. So that’s the biggest challenge. So I’ll start with the landscape, what’s been done so far and where we need to go. So bottom line, it’s dirty energy oil refineries regularly explode.

Despite the best efforts of the steelworkers and refinery operators, they continuously amid benzene knocks socks PM 10, lots of chemicals. If you count just four big sub-sectors, gasoline passenger vehicles, the fuels burning that heavy duty diesel truck emissions, direct oil, refinery emissions and extraction just in-state extraction of crude oil. That’s about half California’s greenhouse gases that oil refineries are responsible for making. You can’t solve climate change without dealing with that, and you can’t solve the small crisis either. California is a major oil refining state, big chunk in the Bay Area, even more in LA and small but substantial capacity in Bakersfield and Santa Maria. About 2 million barrels a day. I think it’s the third refining state in the country. It’s a major oil state. They’re around the bay in the Bay Area in la. It’s concentrated in the harbor area, plus a couple more north. And it’s no surprise that refinery neighbors endure environmental racism. Cal and virus screen shows that it’s black, brown, indigenous communities with the worst impacts, consistently very high toxic releases and cumulative impacts.

So this is a flyover we did to show you what it looks like. This is just one part of one refinery. Refineries are thousands of acres. They’re not like regular industry like just in la. There’s hundreds of massive boilers and heaters. Each one is bigger than a house, miles and miles of pipelines. You’ve got tank farms. Sure. That’s good enough. Thank you, Woody. So this is a unique industry, highly dense, complex, flammable, explosive products running flat out all the time. What does it look like for neighbors on a good day, frequently right up against the refineries, but the emissions are invisible, large and continuous. Here’s what it looks like on a bad day. We’ve had oil eruptions into the streets with people getting sick, explosions that endanger the workers regularly flaring with smoking flares. This happens every year. It’s really common. It’s probably the only industry where it’s kind of accepted that it will blow up. They will blow up regularly again despite the incredible work of the workers who work there to try to keep the community safe. That’s no joke. It’s serious. And the neighbors appreciate that. Industry is inherently dangerous though hundreds of chemicals.

Oh, we have found that neighbors may be chronically exposed to hydrogen sulfide. A neurotoxin study in the south coast found every single refinery had grossly underestimated benzene and VOC emissions also found in Texas, probably true at all refineries, lots of different chemicals. Have we tried to clean ’em up? Yes. We’ve spent decades on every single source storage tanks, fugitive emissions, thousand lanis, boiler and heater, selective catalytic reduction, marine loading, vapor recovery flares, compressor capacities to recycle the gases, vapor recovery on different sources. It’s not nearly enough. We’ve done a lot to clean ’em up for health. We’re still doing that. It is not enough. Refineries are inherently polluting. They’re not zero emission. The inputs are hydrocarbon, whether mostly crude oil, some bio feeds, the energy used in refineries are hydrocarbon. You burn them. That creates smog and greenhouse gases, and the outputs are gasoline, diesel, dirty fuel, even storing gasoline and diesel evaporates toxic VOCs.

So we need a phase out. Here’s a few distractions from phase out carbon capture. It doesn’t work at our refineries. Even the Department of Energy found that it’s not economic or feasible because most of the stacks have too low a concentration of CO2, and it wouldn’t be economic and it can be dangerous. Not enough space to do it as well as the other downsides. Somebody’s phone, sorry, hopefully not mine. Biofuel transition. Biofuels are not zero emission. We need zero emission transportation. There’s not enough sustainable biofeed stock. And another distraction is expanding refinery production of hydrogen. But this is dirty hydrogen. It puts out a lot of CO2. It’s made from fossil fuels for oil refineries, and now they want to make more dirty hydrogen to sell some plastics happening in other states, mainly not California. Plastics feed stocks from refineries. The solution to California’s greenhouse gas emissions is well known, straightforward, doable, economically doable energy efficiency transition, electricity to clean electricity, electrified transportation. This is done over time. We’re not talking about phase out instantly, but while the governor’s order says no new gasoline vehicles by 2035, oil refineries and our emissions will not automatically disappear as California transportation is electrified because refineries already export significant amounts of gasoline and diesel out of the country, and they’re increasing as California need goes down, they’re increasing exports. So that leaves EJ communities holding the bag and sending dirty fuels out of the country. That’s not what we want.

EJ organizations did win unprecedented new phase out refinery phase out policies, but this is just starting. We thank California Air Resources board members who helped us adopt a scoping plan that has a goal for phase out and SBX one two, turn that into a force of law to prepare a transportation fuels transition plan, including oil refinery phase out. But that’s just starting. It’s pretty broad and there’s no plan yet. We don’t have one. So here’s what we need. Modeling local, regional, and state refinery reproduction and emissions as California demand goes down, we need emissions limits milestones. That’s the same as the demand reduction. We need a just transition plan for frontline communities and workers. We know it’s feasible. You can look at the slides for details. You can’t establish environmental justice with dirty energy in our communities next to school yards. The South Coast Air District found you can’t meet the smog standards without zero emission energy at stationary and mobile sources. We’ll never meet the clean air smog health standards, and you can’t reach climate goals without phasing out oil refineries.

Elena Krieger (00:38:31):
Julia, thank you so much for that overview. Next I would to invite up Norman to talk about the worker perspective into including challenges now and throughout decommissioning

Jasmine Vasin (00:38:45):
These slides will be available. Yes, all the slides will be available climate after this summit.

Norman Rogers (00:38:55):
So good afternoon. I’m Norman Rogers. I’m with Local 6 75 USW, local 6 75. We’re located in Carson, California. And this April 12th, we’ll make 25 years that I have been worked at a refinery there. One of the things, well, let’s see. There’s so much particularly following with Julia been talking about. So the title is Obstacles and Challenges to Decommissioning. And I’d have to say one of the biggest challenges is us. Part of it is politically things are moving at a certain pace but not fast enough. And the other part is, and I hate to do this, it’s parroting some of what’s been said. I think it was Aramco, the head of Aramco, but if we don’t use it, they won’t make it. We won’t make it. This is all about money. At the end of the day. It’s money. It just happens to be gasoline and transportation fuel, but it’s money. And that money has led things to a position. There’s a Talking Heads song called puzzling Evidence, and there’s a line in it that says they’ve got the power of money and the money to buy it. And that’s what we’re playing with. So we’ll set that aside, but one of the obstacles to decommissioning, what do folks see in that picture

Norman Rogers (00:40:32):
And then that’s an electric vehicle. And there’s also an electric skip loader in the back there. I believe it’s electric. And then charging stations. That’s one way to look at it. The other way to look at it is paint, tires, asphalt, and all of that comes out of a refinery. So when we’re talking about refining and saying, we’re going to phase out refining, and this is going to be the kind of an overarching theme is what are we phasing in or is it going to come from somewhere else? We have folks that are making these things here. Now in the state, when we do away with refining or rephasing it out, what are we phasing in? Because we don’t hear that. We hear managed decline. We hear phasing out, but we don’t hear what’s coming next.

You are going to have to forgive me. I’m doing two panels and I don’t recall what’s on what slides Dex. Okay, so here again, this is out of the scoping. Oh, so that previous picture that’s out of the executive summary, out of the scoping plan, they had that picture in there. This too is out of the scoping plan, a model phase down of refining activity in line with petroleum demand. Meeting. Petroleum demand means sufficient availability of finished fuel, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels crew is processed at, in-state refineries to produce finished fuel in response to stakeholder requests. This evaluation focuses on the scoping plant scenario, but with an evaluation of a complete oopsie, what did I, shame on me. But yeah, I copied and pasted the wrong bit of information. But what should have been there had to do with when the refineries are phased out that we’re still going to need to import things.

And whether it be feed stocks for chemical plants, because my refinery is attached to a chemical plant. There’s not many in the state, but we are attached to a polypropylene plant, which leads to plastics, which I will come back to, but that is going to be the case. It’s recognized that we’re giving these things up. The folks that are doing these jobs, we’re hearing about phasing down, we’re hearing about managed decline, but we haven’t heard what’s to come next. There’s two examples that could be pointed to as to what’s to come next. And one of them is the, well, it’s a shit show that’s happened with rooftop solar. That’s been a disaster. And even when it was in the full throes of it really surviving and thriving, it didn’t pay well at all. So it wasn’t an example to show folks that, Hey, it’s okay, you can move into this. The other one happened, it was a unit in our local, it was called Proterra, and they’re an electric bus company.

They came in, they approached us because they had access to certain funds, if they had union contract union workers. So yes, we helped them with that, helped them approach the California Energy Commission for Money. They got all of that and were up and running. In the meantime, they were building a facility in Southern or South Carolina. And when that South Carolina facility was finished being built, they closed the one here. And so all those workers, a hundred workers that had seen the future that the California has stated that its goal is to move towards electric vehicles. Electric buses fits right in with that run on the ground floor of something good. And we’re going to just cruise silently and without any pollutants coming out of the tailpipe into the sunset. But that didn’t turn out to be the case. And so again, it’s another example. If we’re showing workers what’s to come next, it’s not pretty. So that’s hard to see. But this showed up in the Huffington Post is a life without oil. About half, maybe half a barrel of oil actually goes to transportation fields. This might be a little easier to see. These are some of the other products that come out of a barrel of oil. So when we’re looking to phasing down, phasing out managed decline, and we’re shutting down refineries again, what’s coming next? What are we phasing in? What are we lifting up that’s going to follow? Here’s another picture that’s a little more graphic.

So even windmills, electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are about 20% plastic. So that’s still going to have to be accounted for lubricants. If you have rotating equipment, you’re going to need lubrication. So that’s going to need to be accounted for. So one of the challenges that’s out there for decommissioning is that we’re all talking about the same thing and that we’ve looked at everything that needs to be accounted for. What do we, oh, so that’s the end of that. So now we’re just talk. So yeah, again, I work with folks where it’s the second, third. Now we’re moving in on the fourth generation of folks that held down these jobs, worked at refiners, and it’s been stable, it’s been polluting before. There’s an issue that hits the community. It’s hit us inside the fence line first. And all the fires that you see, we are there inside trying to put it out. And so one of the biggest obstacles that we’re facing and that we need help with is however this plays out, whatever the timeline is for this to out play out, is that we need help. And that’s in the form of accountability that the companies are doing what they’re supposed to. And that’s going to come down to osha.

One of the things that’s going to come down to osha, they’re chronically understaffed, they’re outgunned on the company side. With lawyers, we can raise issues and say things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to. But as we move forward and as was discussed about the oil wells, Chevron owns a refinery. It says, well, the money’s not really there anymore, sells it off. So then the next person that comes in buys it, doesn’t have as deep pockets as Chevron sells it off. Again, this is all about money. If I put in this much money, how much am I going to get out? So then we end up with somebody that can’t really afford to run it, and operations that are already sketchy are going to become even more so. And I’ll leave it there.

Elena Krieger (00:47:30):
I will stand on my tiptoes. Thank you so much, Norman. He is enough of a hotshot that, as he said, he’s on two panels this afternoon. So stick around for the next one too. And then finally, Davina, we’d love you to come up and talk a little bit about the regulatory perspective.

Davina Hurt (00:47:53):
Good afternoon folks, so much to talk about, right? So you heard a little bit, and I’m sure you’ve seen my bio, I have many different hats that I wear, but I also have the council member, former mayor hat, which is a local perspective, hearing directly from the people about how this impacts them. And so I’m going to focus a lot on the air quality perspectives of this. And the reason why I agree to sit on this panel can be encapsulated. And an author and an entrepreneur that I read recently, her name is Roha Benjamin, and she said, remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without just as you dismantle the worlds that you cannot live within. We can no longer live in a world that burns fossil fuel for all of our needs, especially when it comes to transportation, but craft a world where transportation has zero emission.

And we steadily begin to ensure that our buildings and our consumption is equally zero emission. And this requires unprecedented change. We’ve never done this before. People say, how do you do it? I don’t know. We have to do it together. And so when I think about this transition that’s underway, it’s more about the hearts and minds and changing those and getting people to understand what really is at play. And you’ve heard a little bit from each speaker that it is not as simple as flipping a switch. It is something that a lot of lives depend on, and we have to do this together. As you all know, the state’s path to achieving its air quality and climate goals require us to do this sooner than later. And I will tell you, I’ll be in some communities and they’ll say, wait, zero emission electric vehicles. I don’t know if everybody has adopted that.

That’s the way to go. And I will tell you, and I say to them, that train has left the station. We are already down the road. And it’s important for you to be a part of that because of so many different reasons. In September of 2020, Governor Newsom signed the executive order in 79 20, furthering the state’s transition from its reliance on climate change causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs, spurring economic growth and maximizing environmental health and safety benefits. So it’s clear as the demand goes down for refined petroleum fuels, we’re going to need to consider what to do with these energy assets as part of that order. Cal EPA and also the California Natural Resources Agency, were directed to support the transition away from fossil fuels consistent with the goals that are in the order. And so California has to achieve carbon neutrality by no later than 2045.

And this can only be done with collaboration with all of you and all of the agencies that are a part of making this great change, some of which are local in nature. And I will tell you, not everybody that sits in those spaces are completely aware of what the big picture is for California. And it, it’s important for us to go out and inform people. But how we do that is something that many of you have to think and take on. And I would tell you as a local leader, people yelling at me becomes very difficult to listen. So how do we create those spaces where we can work together and talk? And again, one of the reasons why it’s so important to normalize this talk and talk about it all the time. So in November of 2022, my colleagues on the cardboard and I laid out the policies and the actions and California proposed dramatic reduction in its dependency.

It’s a scoping plan. It’s everything that folks have talked about. We updated it to say we have to reflect what our need is and how we’re going to get there. And it’s not just going to happen by osmosis. And so our dependency on fossil fuels will decline, but we must consider the options to either transition refineries to produce cleaner fuels or as the title to the panel suggests, closing them all together. And I will tell you, I think it’s a little bit of a combination of both in this moment, in this time. And I think as I said earlier, it’s even bigger in my mind. And how do we get our hearts and minds behind the zero emission future? Because some folks are using this as a political football and it’s not about that. It’s just about a cleaner, more equitable world. And we need to talk to those who have not invested to care about that, and how do we do that? I look to many of you to say, how do we do that?

The decision to decommission a refinery is a business decision given the economic regulatory and policy landscape. And I think it was said earlier, it’s about money. This is what it’s about. We are serious about ensuring as far as an air district is concerned that these facilities operate and they operate safely and cleanly. And so it really is the refinery owner’s decision, and I’m speaking with a regulatory hat, whether they completely are partially shut down. And as was said earlier, if you buy their products, they will stay around. So the Air District will be that authority that ensures that they’re doing all that they’re supposed to be doing. And as we saw from some of those pictures, things happen and it’s our job to come in and ensure that they turn the page. I want to just quickly highlight something that’s groundbreaking that we did and we being the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which was rural six five. Has anybody heard of it? Yes. It was in the news recently. And the rule dramatically reduces the emissions of highly harmful particulate matter from the FCUs at the refineries, 65% at their Richmond refinery and 80% at the Martinez Refinery. These units are the largest source of this dangerous pollutant in refineries. And it’s this kind of track record where a single FCCU at Chevron emits over four times particulate matter pollution of all the cars and trucks and the Richmond area combined.

Yeah, so the FCCU is, oh, you’re going to hold on fluid. Oh, go ahead. Catalytic cracking unit. There you go. I always switch the seas. So thanks for fixing that for me. But I was just saying it’s that kind of track record that makes it such where communities question refineries existence where they are and say they need to be decommissioned. And so it’s what we say, you have to get in line and have a safe working refinery. And we, after years of a lawsuit, as you can imagine, they pulled their lawyers out, we pulled ours. We’re a government entity. And I will tell you that they have a lot of bags behind them, full of money to do the things that they do. But for the good guys, I would say there’s a good story that came out with Rule six five. And in that we were able to get them to pay our attorney’s fees. They also created a $20 million community equity quality fund that would go to the community and paid for unprecedented penalties. So in the end, I want to say it was about $83 million, which is pretty unheard of. But that’s just one step in a multi-step process.

So as far as the Bay Area, we have a lot to do when it comes to transitioning. And I will tell you in some stakeholders eyes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we have to get right, because there’s money that’s present. And so I’m looking forward to creating those rules and regulations that helps us get this done. But we do need a dose of reality when it comes to where do we transition to and how do we transition so that we can still maybe not consume as much as we do now because actually, personally I think we consume too much. But how do we make it such where people are not in the streets rising up against all that we’re doing. So again, the hearts and minds, how do we reach them and telling them that you don’t get your sleek car or whatever it is that they personally have an importance to? How do we speak to them? If you can’t, they’re going to fight back on the change. Someone talked a little bit about Senate Bill X one two, and I’ll just tell you that this was a law signed in by Governor Gavin Newsom in March of 2023, and it took effect in June of 2023. And in this it states the assessment requirement of transportation, fuel demand. So that’s a discussion that we’re going to need to dive into, and I look forward to doing that with all of you. Someone’s getting the hook, so I’m going to go

Elena Krieger (00:58:32):
Thank you so much, Davina. So we’re going to be taking questions from that microphone back there. If folks want to go back and ask questions, I would like to open up with one, which is, we’ve heard a lot of challenges about some of the proposed transitions. So biofuels continue to produce emissions in environmental justice communities and switching to the different kinds of solar, they don’t have workforce. I was going to say quality jobs in certain ways or the issues with proterra that you mentioned. All of these seem bad. Do we have any role models? Are there any examples of refinery transitions or from other places or from other industries that we could look to that we might be able to replicate some of those efforts?

Julia May (00:59:28):
I want to remind people, we’ve been working for many decades to clean up the refineries to reduce the emissions with all kinds of technologies, including important particulate matter controls, vapor recovery, leafless valves, storage tank domes, compressor capacity at flares, one after another and made serious progress in the south coast. Dr. Fine is there. He’s at the Bay Area and he did work in the South Coast District chair, hurt in the Bay Area, important continual work. Those are important models for health. They have nothing to do with CO2 and greenhouse gas phase out. They are not a model. We do not have a model of oil refinery phase-out. California has not started this, even though it has some goals, hard-fought goals, scoping plan. We had to fight really hard EJ folks to get carved to adopt and thank you board members for adopting a goal to begin planning the phase down of refineries.

And for SB X12, that put that into law that it will start at some point making a plan. But that planning hasn’t started. And the reason we’re saying that it can’t be just a business decision for refineries to decide that they’re going to phase out is because they’re holding the whole planet Earth hostage for environmental catastrophic climate change destruction. Even the South Coast Air District found they will never meet smog standards without zero emission energy in stationary and mobile sources. So important exceptions were brought up. Do we need some plastics? Maybe a little jet fuel. But when you look at gasoline and diesel, that’s more than half of the refinery production. We haven’t started to face that out. The solution that California has identified that will address climate and smog and toxics is zero emission. Electric transportation. You can’t do that at an oil refinery. That’s a grid. That’s electricity grid and electric vehicles.

Julia May (00:00:00):
Cannot be made into a zero emission transportation fuel source. You have to phase out those gasoline and diesel production. But I entirely agree about the need for communications bringing people along. It’s a gradual transition. You have to have the supply of alternative fuels ready. You have to protect the workers. And we need a just transition plan for worker retraining and all the work that is being done by the steel workers and others, including a really important report called the Perry Report. You should look up it found it’s economic to do the transition and retraining of workers. And there’s some great quotes from steelworkers in that report.

Norman Rogers (00:00:53):
One thing I would say is, and it goes back to the money piece again, is that everybody’s going to run what they can for as long as they can, as hard as they can. And nobody is going to want to be the first person that blinks in that. So Chevron Marathon, PBFP 66, they all have these programs in place, which is essentially we’re going to be the best, best in the west last man standing. All the other refineries may fall away, fall of the wayside, but we’ll be the last ones running. Whatever little bit of fossil fuel production petroleum needs to be processed, we’re going to be the ones that do it. And then as we’ve seen in other industries, when the day comes, they call you on Friday saying, thank you very much. We won’t be needing you the following Monday. I can’t do it quite that quick with the refinery. It’s a time to shut that down. But this same scenario that we’ve seen,

Norman Rogers (00:01:55):
Doing something? Hello? It’s me again. So the things that we saw happen with auto industry, with steel mills, with the coal mines that well, and now we’re dipping into the next panel, but

Lack of management, the lack of management that goes on with those type of what’s happened in those industries. We don’t want to see play out here, particularly since we know it’s coming because it’s been legislated that these changes are to take place. So if left to their own devices, the refineries are going to do what they’ve been doing. So some other hand does need to come in timeline. I’m not with that, but not going to happen.

Davina Hurt (00:03:14):
So to your question, I think no, there’s not an example. There’s not a good one. It’s unprecedented what we’re doing right now, and that’s why we all need to work together to try to figure this out. As much as we all have different reasons why we’re doing the work that we do, it’s going to take all of us to be a part of that change. And we talked about consumerism and I’ll just go back to that again. People don’t produce what people don’t buy. And there are so many aspects of our lifestyle that touch the need for oil refining. And so we need to make some changes within ourselves and our communities quite honestly. So I appreciate the question, but California is who’s going after and trying to do it.

Speaker 6 (00:04:17):
This is Chuck White. I work from Annette Phelps and Phillips as an engineer, although it’s a law firm, but I think I was hearing some different messages from the different parts of the panel. But Julia for example, says, I thought she said had to get rid of refineries altogether. I thought I heard Norman say, well, we need to get rid of the most polluting production from refineries, but there’s still other things that are going to be needed. And I think I was hearing kind of the same mixed messages and I’m concerned about the messaging that’s so absolutism that we can’t have any, but we need to find the right amount to provide the best benefit for humanity and the planet as well. I would agree with you that gasoline and diesel from petroleum is probably one of the top priorities get rid of. But other pharmaceutical products that may come from refinery operations maybe need to be kept going.

And so perhaps we need to think about transitioning to renewable fuels or renewable energy to make those products that we need that aren’t necessarily for burning, but are still used to support the way of life that we have more and more or less still today. So I dunno if that question, my comment makes any sense, but it just seems like there’s got to be a way you just can’t have absolute no refineries. We’ve got to have the right kind of refineries that are right positioned to produce the products that we need without causing the harm that we’re trying to avoid. Simple stated,

Davina Hurt (00:06:07):
I think that’s a little bit why you heard from the governors through his orders and his policies to phase down because of that need for something still, it’s not a complete phase out. And that’s why on that road to zero emission, we are changing now with biofuels and we’re transitioning to another fuel source because no one is ready to do this meeting by candlelight or to walk back home to wherever we are. So it is a combination, but we are on the road to getting to zero emission. It just means we need to do it faster and more people need to be a part of that solution. And I think if there’s anything that’s where we all need to band together and I’m willing for my role to talk more in the community about its importance in having an environmental conscious in everything we do and the way that we live. So

Norman Rogers (00:07:11):
So when I made my statements about the other products that come out of a barrel of oil, it was more along the lines of that we’re looking at everything that comes out of a refinery because the discussion is around transportation fuel, and essentially we’re using 18th century technology to move ourselves around and that needs to be captured as well as the other items, the other products that come out that we’re using daily.

Speaker 7 (00:07:44):
You still need lubricating oils for your makeup.

Julia May (00:07:47):
Yeah, I don’t think you can argue that we’re never going to need, there’s some amount of plastics or maybe some sulfur for pharmaceuticals or there are pieces, but the problem is that has been used as a distraction from doing anything at all refineries. We have no plan. We have no plan. We have some general goals on other sources on electricity. We have the renewable portfolio standard. It has step-by-step phased out fossil fuel based electricity. It’s got far to go, but it’s actually happening. It’s got rules, transportation. There’s no new gasoline vehicles after 2035. Even oil drilling. There are goals and state plans and local municipalities with requirements that are planned out or refineries, nothing. It’s all left to the industry to decide. And it’s true that sometimes they make a decision that just they decide we’ve run this one to the ground, let’s bail and shut it down and lay off all the workers.

It’s terribly disruptive for the workers and the community when that happens. But we don’t actually have a plan at all for phasing out the gasoline and diesel that’s produced at oil refineries. That is by far the largest amount of their production. So I think it’s really important. It’s really important to not say, well, we’re going to need a small part and not start the planning. Let’s start the planning now for the phase down. Let’s get detailed about it. Let’s look at their permitting. Let’s look at connecting it with demand. Let’s do the modeling of individual refineries, regional requirements, what the products are that they’re making. Because right now none of that is happening for plastics. Most of that is happening in the Gulf area where a lot of petrochemical facilities are. It’s not a big thing in California. You mentioned it is with your refinery, but we’re not talking about big chunks of refinery production pretty small. So we got to stop, start with the big chunks and not use the smallest chunks as the reason to not keep going. Cap and trade, we’ve got cap and treat has done nothing.

Speaker 7 (00:10:11):
We’re phasing out gasoline and diesel.

Julia May (00:10:17):
We’re not, though, as I said, the California has increased production at oil refineries even as California demand for gasoline, diesel has gone down, we’re exporting it outside of the country. Even the general accounting office found that cap and trade was not effective in reducing emissions at refineries. Same with low carbon fuel standard. So the trading hasn’t worked. We need a plan directly to limit oil refinery emissions. I appreciate your points. Thank you.

Speaker 5 (00:10:52):
Thank you. Julia. I’d like to go to the gentleman in the back.

Speaker 8 (00:10:56):
Thank you. I appreciate it. I’m Zach. I want to underscore what I’ve heard is that there’s a sort of fundamental contradiction between what human survival and science demand and what an orientation around profit generates. And I want to ask a somewhat seemingly naive question is what has been the discussion of a managed transition and the movement of the production of energy into public ownership? Because it seems to me that as long as we continue to rely on a strategy that is subsidizing private profits as the transition, then we’re not going to be successful. So if we’re talking about something that effectively is connected to all products in our society, but we don’t have a sort of plan to do that kind of mapping that you all described, okay, we are not going to continue to promote gasoline and these are the things that we’re going to phase out, but we still need these medicines and these other products. Like if you don’t have a central authority that is helping to map that transition to support workers along the way, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work. And so relying on the same companies that got us here seems like a fool’s errand.

Julia May (00:12:41):
I understand what you’re saying. There are some people who have considered the idea of public ownership, the CC if you had it on one of their slides as could this be one of the things we want? Personally, I don’t like the idea because that means the public’s going to be left holding the bag on a polluting industry that they’re responsible for making money off of. And when they go bankrupt and when we don’t need them, it’s going to be all on the public, all the

Speaker 3 (00:13:16):
Certain public ownership models,

Julia May (00:13:19):
Maybe there are others. But the fact is we want this industry that has made boatloads of money off of polluting and monopolizing the energy sources when we’ve had the options for electric vehicles for many decades. They killed the electric car long ago when we could have had it long ago. They’ve monopolized our energy sources, made us dependent on this, and I think they ought to pay the price for phasing out slowly. They can still survive and make some money. We need investments in worker retraining. We need community investments as we face down, but they shouldn’t be allowed to just continue to pollute our communities. And I don’t know how public ownership would help us with that, but it is an idea that’s been discussed.

Speaker 3 (00:14:17):
I agree.

Norman Rogers (00:14:20):
There’s a model that’s been discussed about strategic refining capacity so that there is some level of refining left in place just in case essentially like what? We have strategic oil reserves. I can’t recall. I want to say it’s Belgium. There’s a country in Europe that publicly owns a refinery. It’s a government owned refinery. And apparently it’s something to see because it’s not owned by an oil company that’s making decisions on what to pay for to get fixed. If something breaks, they fix it. And so if you have a leaky seal, it gets fixed. I mean, everything is a state of the art, but clean and safe, which you would never see here with one of our refineries because again, it’s all about money. And so there’s that proposal, then it’s going to be a long slog to figure out who’s the last, what’s the refinery that survives it all. And there’s another model of public ownership of refineries, and that has to do with what was mentioned with the oil wells is that they get abandoned and left for the state to take care of. And then we would own it that way.

Davina Hurt (00:15:45):
I guess the only thing I’d really add is that we have had plans to manage this transition. And in fact, a lot of the plans that we have now are just now coming to fruition, but they’ve been in play for decades. And I would tell you, when you think about the hearts and minds again of people, it’s taken that long for people to come around to the fact in mass quantity that this is something we can do and should do. I still walk around sometimes and people talk about 1.5 degrees Celsius. They’re like, what’s that? This is a true thing. So again, getting away from the facts of the thing, how do we capture people’s hearts about doing something different? And the public ownership conversation I think becomes very difficult because of how much money is really needed in play to make this transition at this time with our current technologies. And there’s a tension between the free market as we have it here versus other countries. And you mentioned Belgium. I won’t use the S word. No, I will not, sir. You want to say it? Sorry. That it’s just different. You start to see with our community electric, I’m sorry I don’t want to take up the whole time, but the point is, is that there is a tension between the private and the public, and we need to discuss what that looks like and how much money is involved in making that transition and change.

Elena Krieger (00:17:30):
So I do want to thank you for that question and sort of also just remind everyone that we’re thinking about not just public ownership, looking back at the industry we’re moving away from, but if we’re electrifying everything, that’s a whole other public ownership question too. So we have time for one more question from the lady at the microphone.

Marisol Cantu (00:17:53):
Thank, over to you. Thank you. My name is Marisol Cantu. I’m a third generation frontline community member from Richmond. Grew up very close to the Chevron refinery that you showed in your pictures. It’s really difficult to actually to be in a panel that doesn’t have a community voice. So I just need to let you know that there is no community voice. There is disappointing. And so my question is, you’re saying that there is no model, there is no precedent for this, and yet refineries are closing down. So how are we looking at and researching and analyzing the close down of those refineries to ensure that the worst practices, many people talk about best practices, the worst practices of those shutdowns don’t happen as we move towards a managed phase down, because we know we’re looking at Philadelphia, we’re looking around the us, we’re looking around globally, that refineries are shutting down those numbers in particular 14 to 40.

And yet everybody’s saying we have to imagine it. And I’m wondering one where the regulatory agencies are coming into this conversation and helping us imagine it. And then two, how are we acknowledging the worst practices that have happened where refineries are shutting down and leaving communities? Richmond alone, 30% of our tax revenue comes from Chevron. We would be desperate. I mean, it would be devastating for Chevron right now. They also put a lot of money into nonprofits and CBOs and scholarship funds. They own a news channel in Richmond. The Richmond standards, it’s called our Oilers, Richmond High School. Oilers are named after them. And so they’re embedded into every single aspect of our life. And yet there are refineries closing. So I would love to hear worst case scenarios and how we’re building to create a structure for best case scenarios and do that imagining that you’re asking us to do.

Norman Rogers (00:20:04):
Go ahead. So there’s a worst case scenario, and when you mentioned Philadelphia, that’s what comes to mind. In June of 2019, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions, it was the oldest refinery on the east coast. It blew up and it took them about a week to make the final decision that they weren’t going to open again. And so that’s about a thousand people that lost their jobs and wow. So I put on my cynical hat, it took ’em a week to make that decision. And then the news articles started popping up about the infighting that was going on because the executives were fighting over the bonuses were to be paid out. So again, this is all about money. I’ll leave it there.

Julia May (00:20:59):
Two things. Thank you for the comment about the frontline representation. Last year, Alicia Rivera, our community organizer from Wilmington, presented on this panel. Other of our frontline community members have to deal with multiple issues. Last, just in January at the oil drilling facility next door, a giant eruption of oil blew out over the fence line as high as a telephone pole onto the street. And then there was an explosion at a CG truck a few days, a couple of weeks later, and then a massive flaring event after that. We have a flare regulation coming. Our community members are overbooked. So I’m sorry, you got me. But as far as the transition, it’s so true that we could end up with disaster, economic disaster for communities that depend on tax dollars from refineries. We could end up with laid off workers. We could end up with Superfund sites, refineries being run into the ground and blowing up all the time if left to their own devices.

That’s what the oil industry will do. The alternative is planning. We need the state to plan, including the next time it comes around to carb will be in five years, but C, E, C and CARB actually together under sbx. One, two, have the duty to plan the transition, the fuels transition plan, including refinery and fossil fuel phase out. If we plan, we can put money aside into retraining workers, making sure we support communities. There’s a lot of studies that show that it’s economically feasible. We have to do it anyway, or we’re going to have climate disaster and so we need to do it in an equitable way. You’re right on about all of that.

So CARB is going to be looking at what that plan looks like. And I would say Marisol really well too, that locally, it’s important to hear from the community as they see the plan. We don’t want to just create something and impose it on others. And so I would tell you AB 617, although not perfect, is starting to tackle that topic of those most impacted. How do we improve this space and how do we work with the many different agencies, local air quality and the community as well as the refineries to improve everybody’s standard of living? And it’s not easy, and I hope people feel hope in this and that we’re trying to build trust so we can move together and forward with this. But the plan is being created. What’s the saying while

There you go, building the plane as we fly it. That’s what we’re doing. Connie always comes into the nick of time, thank you, Connie. But we also, as I said prior, there are plans that have been afoot for a long time. But what’s a little bit different this time is we’re making sure that the community’s voice is stronger and a part of that discussion in a way that at least in my time, I haven’t seen before. And I hope people feel that way. So I have great hope. It’s not going to be another Philadelphia and for my family, it’s not going to be another Gary, Indiana where my folks grew up in the still mill and everything left. So we’ve got eyes.

Speaker 5 (00:25:18):
Thank you all so much and thank you all for coming. I think there’s going to be a quick break. And then please come back for the managed transition discussion at four.

Speaker 3 (00:25:34):
Thank you.