Tar sands coming through Southern California?
The Southern California Air Quality Management District is considering a permit application in Wilmington, California, to allow a rail terminal to import for processing 60,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from Canada's tar sands. The Valero Energy Corp. is making the request, and Angeles Chapter Sierra Club has signed on to the following letter of protest. And there have been no public comment or disclosures from the SCAQMD on the issue.
Here's the complete letter of protest filed by Tar Sands Action, Southern California, that the Angeles Chapter and other groups have signed on to:
"Dear SCAQMD and Los Angeles City Councilmembers,
Please consider the following request as signed and supported by over ## community, health, environmental and social justice organizations/businesses in the Southern California area that share concerns over Valero Energy Corp’s proposal to ship and process Canadian Tar Sands in Wilmington, California.
Los Angeles communities experience higher rates of asthma, because we breathe some of the most polluted air in the country. Valero’s oil refinery in Wilmington is one of our biggest polluters. Any proposed changes to the refinery that could significantly increase pollution in our communities should be evaluated carefully through an open process that encourages public participation.
We are concerned to learn that the SCAQMD is considering a permit application, without public comment or disclosure, for the construction of a rail terminal that will allow Valero to import for processing 60,000 barrels of diluted bitumen (dilbit) per day from Canada’s tar sands.
Moving more than 76% of the refinery’s inputs from conventional crude to diluted bitumen could significantly increase air pollution in communities downwind of the refinery. Many studies have found that refining diluted bitumen releases into the air greater concentrations of sulphur dioxide, various heavy metals, and other harmful pollutants.
Diluted bitumen is also more corrosive than conventional crude oil. Significantly increasing supplies into the refinery could make corrosion-related accidents more likely and pose a unique set of pollution and safety related risks to both local communities and refinery workers.
The Air District has the authority to conduct a public comment period on permits that could result in significantly higher levels of air pollution. Because replacing significant volumes of conventional crude oil inputs into the refinery with diluted bitumen could result in significantly higher levels of air pollution, we encourage the district to do the following:
Conduct an open and transparent evaluation process, including accepting public comment on the proposed crude-by-rail facility,
Increase public participation by widely publicizing the public comment period, and
Release all relevant information related to the project for public review.
The organizations who have signed this letter believe that the above proposed project by Valero at the Wilmington refinery will result in significant impacts to our communities and environment. We also request that the City of Los Angeles engage in a transparent process, choose SCAQMD as the lead agency on the above project, and accelerate the process for doing a publicly transparent California CEQA analysis.
Organizer, Tar Sands Action, Southern California Director, Wild Heritage Planners
P.O. Box 50260
Los Angeles, CA 90050