Chevron drops lawsuit, agrees to pay millions to fund clean air projects in Richmond

Chevron drops lawsuit, agrees to pay millions to fund clean air projects in Richmond
Chevron's Richmond Refinery. Photo/ Linda Hemmila

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has reached an agreement with Chevron and the Martinez Refining Company in a joint lawsuit that will pay millions in fines and funding for air quality projects in Richmond.

The air district and local elected officials are celebrating the whopping $138 million settlement agreement, which is composed of $20 million to settle past violations, $20 million for a community air quality fund, and up to $500,000 in attorney fees. 

If Chevron does not comply by the July 2026 deadline, it faces steep penalties of $17 million per year for the first three years and $32 million in the fourth year. Chevron also agreed to contribute another $3.5 million per year during the period needed to construct air pollution controls.

As part of the agreement, Chevron dropped its lawsuit and agreed to reduce PM emissions. The agreement is related to the Air District’s enforcement of Rule 6-5, which reduces airborne particulate matter, or PM, emissions from petroleum refinery fluidized catalytic cracking units, or FCCUs.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said Chevron would pay the highest penalties in Bay Area Air Quality Management District history.

“Defending our health-protective regulation to substantially reduce particulate matter from refineries and imposing significant penalties helps us improve air quality for all residents,” Gioia said. “I believe everyone, no matter where they live, has the right to breathe clean air."

Chevron said they have agreed to support community emission reduction projects that will further decrease emissions in Richmond and the surrounding area with an initial contribution of $20 million. The BAAQMD will manage the fund, determine funding processes, and will provide an annual community report on the progress and results of funded projects and programs.

In a statement, Chevron said the company is committed to working with agencies, like the BAAQMD, on efforts to improve air quality but remains concerned about processes and policies that affect the production of fuel.

"We remain concerned that the BAAQMD’s rulemaking process is fundamentally broken and believe it’s another example of how California policies have led to a hostile business environment for manufacturers, disincentivizing production of the transportation fuels that millions of Californians depend on every day."

"The settlement ends our litigation over BAAQMD’s adoption of some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world. It provides for an extended compliance timeframe to navigate California’s difficult permitting landscape and settles the BAAQMD’s 5-year backlog of enforcement actions. Importantly, many of these resolved issues do not involve actual emission exceedances and several of the actions are a result of the difficulty to receive permit changes from the BAAQMD in a timely manner," Chevron said.

BAAQMD said agreements with Chevron and Martinez Refining Company are a win for air quality in Richmond and Martinez.

“The historic penalties and successful defense of our life-saving Rule 6-5 are a win for air quality in the Bay, especially those living in the Richmond and Martinez-area communities,” said Davina Hurt, chair of the Air District Board of Directors," BAAQMD said. “The establishment of the Community Air Quality Fund for Richmond further emphasizes our dedication to address the specific air quality concerns of the communities most affected, improve public health and to advance environmental justice."

Help keep our content free for all!

Click to become a Grandview Supporter here. Grandview is an independent, journalist-run publication exclusively covering Richmond, CA. Copyright © 2024 Grandview Independent, all rights reserved.

Read more