Category Archives: Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)

Meeting Notes – April 9, 2024

APRIL 9, 2024


Our April general membership meeting was held on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at 7pm, via Zoom.


Our panel included BAAQMD‘s Executive Officer/Air Pollution Control Officer, Dr. Philip Fine, formerly a presidential appointment to the EPA and the South Coast Air Management Quality District; BAAQMD Board of Directors member and Benicia Mayor Steve Young; and BAAQMD’s Community Advisory Council Co-Chair Ken Szutu, who also founded the  Citizen Air Monitoring Network in Vallejo before serving as its director.  Other staff members of the Air District joined us as well.

Mayor and Board Member Steve Young described the role of the  BAAQMD Board and its membership; he also gave examples of some of the broader policy issues the Board is involved with.

Executive Director Dr. Fine described his role as director and explained what the Air District does and how it is structured.

Ken Szuto described the role and activities of the Community Advisory Council.

All panel members answered questions from the Steering Committee and from the audience.

Meeting Recording Link

Here is a link to the video recording of the panel discussion from this important meeting.


Our Next Meeting – Tuesday, April 9

TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2024, 7:00 PM



Dear members and supporters—

Our April 9th meeting at 7pm will focus on the quality of our air.  As the weather warms up and we start spending more time outdoors there is no better time of year to have this program, especially in light of a recent Level-3 Incident at our local refinery.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which many refer to as simply “the Air District,” is our local regulatory agency when it comes to air pollution.  It’s been around for decades, but its mission and activities are still a mystery to many.  Luckily, we have secured an amazing panel of Air District representatives to guide us through what it does, how it does it, and what it’s working on to keep Bay Area residents healthy and safe.

Air District Panel

We are pleased to have as our panel BAAQMD’s Executive Officer/Air Pollution Control Officer, Dr. Philip Fine, formerly a presidential appointment to the EPA and the South Coast Air Management Quality District; Deputy Executive Officer of Public Affairs Viet Tran, Board of Directors member and Benicia Mayor Steve Young; and BAAQMD’s Community Advisory Council Co-Chair Ken Szutu, who also founded the Citizen Air Monitoring Network in Vallejo before serving as its director.  We also expect that other staff members of the Air District will join us.

Terry Mollica will also provide a brief update about the status of the Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance.

Renew Your Membership, Vote in Upcoming Endorsements

I want to remind everyone that it is not too late to renew your membership.  This is an election year and we hope to have a robust program around the election.  Only people who have been members for 60 days prior to the endorsement in question are allowed to vote.  We could do our first endorsements in August.  The mayor, city council and school board will all have open seats so it is important you join up in time to vote for your preferred candidates.  Visit our membership page on our website for more information.

Zoom Details

The link and sign-in information for most PDB membership meetings in 2024 is below. For the most part you can use this link, meeting ID, and passcode through 2024.  

Topic: PDB General Meeting
Time: April 9, 2024 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 862 7382 1941
Passcode: 528756

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US (San Jose)
+16694449171,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US

We look forward to seeing you Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 pm via Zoom!

Air District Hearing on Valero emissions March 15 – details and link

March 8, 2022

Public Hearing on Valero’s “serious excess emissions violations”

The Bay Area Air District is convening a Hearing Board meeting to approve measures that would end nearly two decades of serious air emission violations at Valero’s Benicia Refinery.

The BAQQMD Hearing Board will consider the matter at a meeting on March 15, starting at 9:30 am.  The public is invited to attend and comment.

>>HEARING NOTICE for the meeting:

>>ZOOM LINK is in the notice of the meeting as well as here:

BACKGROUND: Air district seeks abatement order for ‘significant excess emissions’ at Valero Benicia refinery

Air district seeks abatement order for ‘significant excess emissions’ at Valero Benicia refineryVallejo Sun, By Scott Morris, Jan 25, 2022

BENICIA – The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is seeking a legally binding order against Valero to correct “significant excess emissions violations” at its refinery in Benicia, the air district announced on Monday.

In a news release, the air district called the action “a major shift in the handling of enforcement cases” against the Valero refinery.

Air district spokesperson Kristine Roselius said the violations had been going on for 16 years before they were discovered in 2019, resulting in more than 8,000 tons of excess emissions that were not reported.

“Valero’s disregard for air quality regulations and public safety in the surrounding community warrants decisive action and significant penalties to deter violations in the future,” air district executive director Jack Broadbent said in a statement. “Valero did not report or control the emissions from this source as required by Air District regulations, state and federal law.”

In a separate news release on Tuesday, city of Benicia officials said they only learned of the alleged air quality violations by Valero when the air district announced its findings.

“We are deeply troubled to learn of Valero’s 2019 actions that led to this order,” Benicia Mayor Steve Young said in a statement. “BAAQMD’s announcement makes clear that not adhering to Air District regulations will not be tolerated.”

City officials said that the city is working with the air district to set up a community air monitoring station on city-owned property near the refinery.

According to the proposed abatement order, Valero has already agreed to its terms. But by bringing it before the hearing board — a five-member body that adjudicates compliance issues and hears appeals of air district decisions — the air district said it will provide transparency of the evidence and violations and legally bind Valero to comply with the order. The air district said it will also seek unspecified fines from Valero.

The board is expected to hold a hearing on the order at an upcoming meeting that has not yet been scheduled. The air district said it has also contacted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether Valero violated federal law.

The action stems from a violation found at the refinery’s two hydrogen plants in 2019. The units were designed to vent excess hydrogen, but an air district investigation determined that they also vented non-methane hydrocarbons that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, as well as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene compounds, volatile organic compounds regulated under the federal Clean Air Act.

According to the order, after discovering the emissions, the air district issued a notice of violation to Valero. Valero then attempted to fix the problem, and while the air district acknowledged this significantly reduced the emissions, it did not eliminate them.

According to the air district, Valero then agreed to design a new project to bring the refinery into compliance. In the meantime, Valero must continuously monitor emissions from the vents and report its findings to the air district.

The two process units affected were part of the original construction of the refinery in 1968, according to the air district. The refinery has been operated by Valero since 2000.

If Valero does not comply with the terms of the order, the district can seek other unspecified penalties.

Valero did not respond to a request for comment from the Vallejo Sun. In a statement provided to the city of Benicia, Valero spokesperson Paul Adler said, “The Valero Benicia Refinery discovered its hydrogen unit vent had trace contaminants. Valero took immediate steps to address the issue and has been working cooperatively with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to develop a project as part of its long-term corrective action.”

Valero typically pays about $200,000 a year to the air district to settle alleged violations at the refinery. Its most recent settlement was for $191,500 for 14 violations in 2017. That did not, however, include an additional 17 notices of violations sent for a May 2017 incident when a power outage sent toxic chemicals – including sulfur dioxide and carbonyl sulfide – into the air, which Valero estimated would cost at least an additional $100,000 to settle.

Valero also drew scrutiny in December, when the refinery released heavy oils that landed on residents’ homes and cars which was difficult to clean.

Refinery manager Josh Tulino said at a Benicia Refinery Community Advisory Panel meeting that the oil was released onto neighbors’ property  after the refinery was offline for more than two months for maintenance. He said there were no air quality concerns during the incident.

Young said that Valero would pay for cleaning any property affected and residents could contact Valero by calling 800-678-9355 and referencing the Valero Benicia Refinery Dec. 11, incident 190143 or by emailing Adler at Valero at [email protected].

This story has been updated with comments from Valero spokesperson Paul Adler and the city of Benicia.