BAAQMD: Costs for daily air monitoring too expensive… poor refineries…
By Benicia Vice Mayor Steve Young, October 23, 2018
The Bay Area Air District (BAAQMD) recently released their proposal on how to deal with the problem of excess ROG (Reactive Organic Gas) emissions from refinery cooling towers. Here are my favorite two sections from their proposed way of dealing (or more accurately, not dealing), with the problem …
Amendments to Rule 11-10 reduce monitoring of cooling towers for hydrocarbon leaks from daily to weekly, with provisions to extend monitoring periods after proving no leaks for an extended time. Costs for daily monitoring were found to be excessive relative to the potential hydrocarbon emission reductions. Requirements for cooling tower best management practices and reporting were eliminated when found to be focused primarily on Process Safety Management and cooling water chemistry rather than leak detection.
The only feasible method to reduce ROG emissions from cooling towers is more frequent monitoring and repair, but this method was concluded to not be feasible due to economic factors as per CEQA Guidelines §15364. Thus, no feasible mitigation measures have been identified that could avoid the significant impact or reduce the impact to less than significant.
Generally, CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) does not allow an environmental impact to be ignored based on the fact that reducing those impacts will cost money. And refineries certainly SHOULD be expected to spend money on such things as more frequent monitoring and repairs.
Going to testify at these hearings – where testimony is limited to no more than three minutes, and often shorter – is both necessary and, seemingly, pointless.
Having lived in Benicia since 2003 I’ve had ample opportunity to observe local political endorsements.
In particular, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend regarding endorsements from the Napa/Solano Central Labor Council (NSLC). This group appears to support any project that has the potential to create jobs regardless of the health, safety and environmental impacts on the local community.
Case in point – the NSLC supported Valero’s “Crude by Rail” project despite overwhelming concerns about “bomb trains” rolling through the Benicia Industrial Park, blocked roads, air pollution, and otherwise putting residents in danger of a catastrophic explosion.
Add to that the NSLC’s endorsement of Vallejo City Council candidates Malgapo and Dew-Costa, who continue to buck the Vallejo Planning Commission, citizen groups, and others in order to green light the ill-advised Orcem cement plant proposal. That project would send 500 diesel trucks a day through Vallejo neighborhoods, past schools, and spew fine particulates into surrounding neighborhoods as far as Benicia.
Conspicuously absent from the NSLC endorsements are any candidates who don’t support unbridled development. Apparently “jobs” trump concerns about health and safety for this group.
Recently concerns were voiced by Benicia City Councilmember Tom Campbell regarding the Progressive Democrats of Benicia (PDB) endorsement process – a simple majority vote of the members. Christina Strawbridge came within two votes of receiving the PDB endorsement. Had she or two of her supporters joined the group and voted for her, she also would have received the PDB endorsement in addition to Kari Birdseye.
Contrast the PDB process with the endorsement process used by the Napa/Solano Labor Council. The steering committee of that group interviews and makes decisions on whom to endorse. The Labor Council includes the Benicia labor unions representing teachers, police and fire. But the endorsement process for labor is top down; their steering committee decides whom to endorse, and then instructs all of their member unions to make the same endorsements. I would be curious to know if any Benicia teachers, for example, were actually asked who they preferred to endorse, or were they simply told that the unions would be endorsing Largaespada and Strawbridge?
It is more than a little misleading to say that “Benicia teachers, fire and police” endorse a particular candidate when the membership of those unions is never given a chance to validate the endorsements being made in their name. In fact, I wonder if any Benicia citizens actually weighed in on those endorsements?
Don’t get me wrong. I love labor unions. I think we need more of them. They’re great for negotiating worker rights, worker safety, wages, benefits and the like. However, the NSLC has consistently backed candidates that are soft on environmental protection and community well-being regardless of a candidate’s actual stance on labor issues.
Why else would the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local 180 PAC put $500 each into the Largaespada and Strawbridge campaigns? Why would the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulator and Allied Workers Local 16, AFL-CIO PAC fund put $580 into the Largaespada campaign and $330 into the Strawbridge campaign?
Fortunately, we have a candidate for Benicia City Council who is not backed by outside special interests nor taking donations from corporations. Kari Birdseye won’t be swayed by big business, real estate developers, construction unions or the NSLC.
We need City Council members who are independent and not willing to swing votes toward ill-advised developments. I watched while our community narrowly “dodged bullets” with the “Crude by Rail” proposal and the “Seeno” property development due to a “development at any cost” attitude by some City Council members. We shouldn’t have to raise a ruckus to halt ill-advised projects that compromise our health and safety. Kari Birdseye is a sharp, independent-minded woman who wants to see development in Benicia that benefits Benicians without risking our safety and lifestyle.
Whenever I return to Benicia from elsewhere I’m so thankful for the small-town atmosphere, beautiful surroundings and my many friends. I want to keep it that way and that’s why I’m supporting Kari Birdseye for City Council.
On Tuesday, on October 9, instead of our monthly meeting, the Progressive Democrats of Benicia invited Benicians to come to a work party for our endorsed City Council candidate, Kari Birdseye.
We changed the location from the Library to 1215 West Second Street for this phone/postcard make-a-difference party!
This was an opportunity to put words and support into action. We made phone calls on behalf of our endorsed candidate for Benicia City Council, Kari Birdseye and wrote postcards to Democrats in districts that the Democrats hope to flip. Kari was present for a brief campaign update.
To help with the phone banking everyone was asked to bring a cell phone and a laptop along with necessary chargers. Training was provided. Those without laptops sent postcards to help flip a District.
There was also a brief summary of the propositions on the state ballot with the PDB Steering Committee recommendations and an update on our endorsed and recommended candidates.