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Fit For Life
December 16: Critical Air Board Meeting

BAAQMD's New Refinery Emission Rules

Pollution Cartoon

Jack Shirley

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is finally taking some important steps to protect public health. Are the new proposed rules perfect? No. Are they a step in the right direction? Absolutely. The refineries are huge, very complex operations, and regulating them well will take time and continued pressure.

The first set of rules is going to the BAAQMD Board on Wednesday, December 16th, and more rules are planned for 2016. It's urgent that we show up en masse at the December 16th hearing and insist the issues below are addressed before Board members vote to approve the proposed regulations. The meeting is at BAAQMD headquarters, 939 Ellis St. at Van Ness, San Francisco, at 9:30 am.  

What are the biggest positives for Richmond in the proposed regulations?

  • Far better reporting of emissions and health risks;
  • Explicit and fairly tough standards for cancer risk and chronic health risk;
  • Timelines and reporting requirements for reducing health risks to below significant levels;
  • An initial set of emission reduction rules addressing leaks, cooling towers and FCC (fluid catalytic cracking) units;
  • Special focus on limiting particulate matter and sulphur dioxide pollution.

What are the biggest shortcomings for Richmond?

  • Still too loose on which pollutants will be monitored at the refinery fenceline and in the community;
  • Still too many ways for a refinery to say "it would be too expensive" to reduce pollution;
  • No focus on setting limits on greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide, and the highest-risk toxic air contaminants;
  • No framework yet for the use of Best Available Control Technology to achieve continuous emission reductions;
  • No evaluation standards for changes to dirtier crude oil feedstocks;
  • Timelines are bureaucratic: many easy emission reductions could be done in much shorter time.


Considerable progress has been made, but these shortcomings are serious, and there's no guarantee they will be addressed before the December 16th adoption hearing.

We are grateful for the leadership of West Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, and for the intense lobbying by the BAAQMD Coalition, which includes the RPA and CBE, APEN, Sierra Club and Sunflower Alliance, plus community groups in the other refinery towns. We remain hopeful that with continuing and intensified public pressure, we can get the stringent regulatory protections we deserve.  The BAAQMD Coalition continues to support the Community-Worker Proposal, which calls for refinery-wide enforceable numeric caps on all pollutants, including greenhouse gases, based on current emissions levels.

--Jeff Kilbreth

Save the date: December 12th!

Input on New Rent Control Ordinance,

followed by a party!

And you're invited to both.  It's worked out that we're able to schedule a members' meeting 3-5:30pm on December 12th, after all.  The focus will be on the effort to get Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction on the ballot for a public vote. Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin and others from the coalition working on the issue will give an update on how the measure is shaping up thus far, and RPA members will have the opportunity to ask questions and give input.  

Here's a statement the coalition issued earlier this month:

"We remain committed to rent control in Richmond to protect residents from unfair rent hikes and no cause evictions. We expect the City Council to put rent control/just cause on the ballot in the coming weeks. Now that the real estate lobby has forced the issue to the ballot, the voters will have the opportunity to adopt these basic protections for our residents. The industry will regret their gamesmanship here.  We expect voters to have little patience for huge rent hikes, unfair evictions, and profiteering through displacement."

As noted by Randy Shaw in The New Rent Control Wars, "The biggest challenge for rent control campaigns is the organized political opposition of the real estate industry." In September, San Francisco Supervisors unanimously voted to strengthen their city's protections against tenant evictions; see this link for details. Meanwhile, in Richmond, the California Apartment Association managed to block the implementation of Richmond's Rent Control with Just Cause Ordinance.  At least, as Councilmember Eduardo Martinez was quoted in an East Bay Express article earlier this month,  "It gives us more time to create a better ordinance that we can put on the ballot."  Please plan to be at the meeting December 12th to learn about the progress being made and think about how you can help make the ballot measure succeed.

The Holiday Party will be later on the 12th, also at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center.  Look for details soon.  Save the date now.

Mon. 11/30, 6-8pm, Richmond Auditorium* 
Berkeley Global Campus Community Briefing 

Here's a chance for community members to provide input on the draft recommendations that will be presented by the Community Working Group (CWG), in preparation for "a draft Richmond Compact (agreement) that specifies the commitments and benefits the University and the Lab are prepared to provide to the Richmond community" (source). The CWG is hosting the event; a draft agenda for the briefing and open house is available here, and much more background information is available with the invitation on Eventbrite.

*403 Civic Center Plaza.  Doors open at 5:30pm, with refreshments.
RPA Steering Commmittee Elections rescheduled to 1/9/16!
Sat. 12/12: Rent Control then PARTY's ON!

The Nominating Committee for the first RPA Steering Committee elections has been busy meeting the many candidates nominated and discussing visions of RPA's future with each of them. One nominating committee member, Kathleen Wimer, says, "We're meeting a cross section of Richmond's progressive activists. We're excited about the re-set for RPA this step in our restructure represents. We are assembling a dynamic, diverse slate of candidates to recommend to the membership for election." 

As mentioned in the last Activist, this process has taken longer than initially anticipated, and last week the Steering Committee formally rescheduled the election to Saturday, January 9th.  The slate will be announced by December 10th, and any others wishing to run will be able to do so, as long as they submit a candidate's statement by December 26th (2 weeks before the election).  All candidates will have equal access to RPA media.

With the election postponed, and the winter holidays approaching, we've decided to have a party!  It's being planned by the "Culture Club," the (He)arts & Culture Action Team that formed in the late spring at our membership meeting focusing on outreach.  If you'd like to help with party planning, please call the office, 510-412-2260, and leave a message.  Everyone, please save the date of the evening of Saturday, December 12th for a celebration together.

Come election day in the new year, all voters must be RPA members in good standing and in attendance at the meeting.
If you'd like to join now, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Or, to avoid printing and snail-mailing, you can:
  •  send an email to with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution helps us keep dues more affordable for those with low income and is welcomed.

Sat. 11/21, 10:30am-2pm, from Lake Merritt Amphitheatre*
Show up for NorCal Climate Mobilization

Look for the RPA banner and join the contingent!  
(Monitors will be able to help you locate us.)

In advance of the 2015 UN Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21), the Mobilization demands that world governments take significant action and calls for:
* A world united to repair the ravages of climate change
* A world with an economy that works for people and for the planet
* A demilitarized world with peace and social justice for everyone; where Black Lives Matter; where good jobs, clean air, water, and healthy communities belong to all.

The website for the NorCal Climate Mobilization has all the information. Volunteers are needed, starting at 9:00 a.m. and continuing throughout the day, depending on your availability. You can sign up to volunteer here

The march will arrive at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza (14th St., just east of Oakland City Hall) for a 1pm rally. Here's a link for the planned programs. 

And an appeal from Sunflower Alliance: "At the rally, we need people
to walk through the crowd distributing fliers about the showdown at the December 16th Bay Area Air Quality District meeting. We're trying to filibuster a vote, so huge public turnout is necessary. That in turn depends in large part on how many people we can reach on Saturday

"When you arrive at the rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th and Broadway, 1 pm), please come to the Sunflower Alliance table, which should be under the trees on the right hand side as you face the stage. We'll give you fliers and answer any questions you may have.

"This may be our only chance to keep dirty tar-sands oil and bomb trains out of the Bay Area, and with your help we can do this!"

*Meeting at the S. end of Lake Merritt, between12th St. & 1st Ave.
Also on Sat. 11/21, 2pm, at BBPC, 1021 Macdonald Ave.
The RPA Housing Action Team meets

On the agenda: Review of development projects, including the housing element of the Berkeley Global Campus initiative, debate on the Richmond Riviera, and more.

All interested RPA members and friends are welcome!  (Maybe you can leave the Mobilization rally a little early to hop on the 1:30 BART at 12th St. and arrive in Richmond at 1:56!)

Wed. 12/9, 5:30pm, Lovonya DeJean Middle School*
Rally with United Teachers of Richmond

Be there in support of our teachers, before the WCCUSD Board Meeting.  They are the lowest paid teachers in the Bay Area, yet our superintendent is one of the highest paid.  Their health care benefits have been greatly reduced, and class size in secondary is horrendous. Show our teachers some support in their fight for a fair contract!

*3400 Macdonald Ave.

Sat. 12/12, 10am-2pm: Love (Y)Our Greenway Day 
Sharpen your appetite for the RPA Party

Pitch in to make the Greenway grow and glow.  Go to the Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) website to learn more.

They'll have rakes, brooms, shovels and tools. All you need to bring is your energy, family and friends. Refreshments will be served. Let's celebrate our Greenway and show it some love!

Sat. 12/5, 5-7pm, BBPC, 1021 Macdonald, Bay Area Premiere
CCC Greens to show K2 & the Invisible Footmen

A Cultures of Resistance film, by Iara Lee
K2 and the Invisible Footmen (Official Trailer)
Official trailer from

All welcome/ $10 suggested donation.  (No one turned away for lack of funds.)

Want to learn more about the RPA?
Here are some links, suggested by Mike Parker