Letter in Protest to the Approval of the Tesoro LARIC project, the Tesoro Refinery Merger/Expansion

Mr. Nastri, Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District

On Friday, May 12, the South Coast Air Quality Management District certified the final environmental report for a project that would integrate Tesoro’s refinery facilities in Wilmington with BP Carson, even though a recent joint Swedish/South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) study illustrated how air pollution has been significantly underestimated in environmental studies for the Tesoro project. 18 groups signed a letter April 27 to the AQMD demanding more rigid environmental analysis of the Tesoro expansion, and over 5,000 people marched in the streets of Wilmington as part of the People's Climate March on April 29th, to demand that the AQMD send existing studies back to the analysis phase.

Senior Scientist from Communities for a Better Environment Julia May said in her rally speech, “The new joint study of the Air District and Swedish Scientists measured Tesoro’s benzene emissions at 43 times the reported emissions – confirming what many of us have said for years – that the standard calculations used severely underestimate emissions.” She continued, “Benzene is a known cancer-causing chemical, compounding the harm to local communities of color surrounding the refinery – they don’t need even more benzene from the North Dakota crude oil swap that Tesoro has announced to its investors.”

People's Climate March to Tesoro - April 29 - ReutersPeople's Climate March to the Tesoro LA Refinery on April 29. Photo by REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

The study also found actual emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were 6.4 times greater compared to the District inventory. These emissions were found particularly in the area of storage tanks, which Tesoro plans on doubling the existing capacity as part of their merger/expansion.

Unfortunately, not two weeks later, behind closed doors, the regional Air Quality District gave the Tesoro merger the environmental go-ahead, ignoring the pleas of thousands. Send this letter to Wayne Nastri, Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, to let him know that you are NOT ok with this decision.

To: Mr. Nastri, Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District
From: [Your Name]

I am extremely disillusioned by your approval of the Tesoro LARIC project, the merger of Tesoro and BP Carson, behind closed doors and on a Friday night. This will be the largest refinery on the West Coast, operated by the largest greenhouse gas polluter in California, in the region with some of the worst air quality in the nation, next to communities already suffering a disproportionate burden from our fossil fuel addiction.

I am especially concerned after learning your own agency recently found that Tesoro’s emissions were vastly underestimated for both refining and storage, putting people at risk for diseases including leukemia-causing benzene. Your agency has previously and consistently refused to include in the analysis the facts that Tesoro itself acknowledges to its investors, that it is switching to Bakken and likely Canadian tar sands crude oil. That refusal undermines the District’s credibility in this decision.

There were so many other deficiencies in the EIR, it is unbelievable that you have approved it. We see this decision as another instance where scientifically proven health and safety risks for vulnerable communities are sacrificed in favor of the profits and political power of a major corporation, Tesoro. We find your alignment with the Trump Administration's fossil fuel push to bring more volatile and toxic Bakken and tar sands crude oils into Southern California, without any assessment of the risks, alarming and shameful. We are losing faith in your ability to reflect reality and the facts in your environmental review. I am extremely disappointed in your decision, and am writing in protest.