Our next general membership meeting will be on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 7pm, via Zoom (scroll down to find the link, which will be included in a reminder email as well).
This month our meeting topic is “Clear the Air on Our Local Refineries: Environmental Harm, Health Damage, and Potential Solutions.”
Air pollution is a topic of vital importance to the health and safety of all of us, not least our children and those with particular medical conditions.
Many of you know that our city is home to Valero’s Benicia Refinery. The refinery supports Benicia’s economy through employment opportunities and taxes. But it also has committed repeated, serious and health-threatening violations.
These violations include spewing toxic pollutants, hundreds of times the legal limits, into our air for 15 years without disclosing so until last year. Other violations spurred the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fine Valero over one million dollars recently.
All of this raises numerous questions, including:
- What other Bay Area refineries impact us? For instance, the Martinez Refining Company recently blanketed Martinez in a “toxic powdery substance” that reached as far as Benicia.
- How can we work together in Benicia, but also with other cities and civic groups, to protect communities located close to refineries?
- What tools and resources are available for residents who want to protect themselves and their families?
What solutions, including the kind of Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) employed by Contra Costa County, might Benicia learn from, adopt and adapt to our own situation?
We have an excellent lineup of experts and advocates ready to address these questions for you:
- Gregg Karras, a scientist and environmental consultant, will provide us with useful background and perspective on challenges posed by Bay Area refinery operations.
- Constance Beutel, of the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, will give us information on an app that we can use to receive notifications when emissions exceed health limits.
- Heidi Taylor, a Martinez resident who lives close to its refinery and is a founding member of Healthy Martinez: Refinery Accountability Group, will tell us what happened in Martinez with its release of a severe level of pollutants over Thanksgiving, and how Benicia could be affected by such incidents.
- Kari Birdseye, Benicia City Council Member, will draw in part on her extensive experience in the environmental field to discuss ways in which communities can seek to protect their health and safety.
- Maureen Breenan, a member of the Hazardous Materials Committee for Contra Costa County, the Fenceline Working Group for Philipps 66 and the Sunflower Alliance, will speak about her experience with the Industrial Safety Ordinance in Contra Costa County.
- Terry Mollica, a Benicia-based attorney and the Benicia Planning Commission Chair, will discuss features and benefits of a potential Industrial Safety Ordinance here, as well as how the need for an ISO may have increased in recent years.
Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you are PDB members or Benicia residents.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 823 6210 9045
Don’t miss this important meeting!
See you on Zoom, Tuesday, May 9 at 7:00 PM! Please invite your friends and anyone who is interested in keeping Benicia safe and healthy. They do not have to be a PDB member in order to attend.