General Membership Meeting, Tuesday, February 8
Panel on Biofuels and Expanding PDB Membership
Our February monthly meeting was held on February 8th.
We learned a lot from our distinguished panelists, discussing biofuels, including two projects proposed by refineries in the Bay Area.
Two oil companies, Marathon and Phillips 66, propose to convert their refineries from processing crude oil to possibly vegetable oil, animal fats, or used cooking oil to create biofuels—what the industry refers to as renewable diesel. The proponents of the projects describe these projects as part of California’s plan to transition from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But local activists and environmental organizations are voicing reservations as Contra Costa County officials consider whether they should grant permits in the coming months. In addition, a local Benicia company has partnered with a Wyoming-based renewable fuels company which converts organic waste to clean hydrogen and synthetic fuels.
Our panelists for this discussion, which was moderated by Kari Birdseye:
- Ann Alexander, Senior Staff Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
- Nancy Rieser, from Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment (CRUDE).
- Matt Murdock, CEO and Founder, Raven SR, a waste-to-renewable fuels company that recently acquired Benicia Fabrication & Machine Inc., which will construct several key components of Raven SR’s steam/CO2 reformer system to meet increasing demand for green hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuels.
A Q&A session followed the presentation by our panelists.
In advance of the meeting, members were encouraged to read DEIR Comments by Jay Gunkelman, submitted for the Phillips 66 proposed biofuels conversion in Rodeo. Jay Gunkelman is our highly respected community expert on refineries and toxic emissions. Of note is Mr. Gunkelman’s second paragraph where he compares Phillips 66 to other refineries including Valero Benicia, with regard to required fence line detection limits to operate a 5 parts-per-billion. Note that Valero’s detection is significantly above that parameter for Xylene.
The second part of our program was open to PDB voting members only. We concluded our previous discussions on expanding PDB membership, voting on two motions: