To: Southern California Air Quality Management District and the Los Angeles City Council

Save Wilmington from Tar Sands - Demand Transparency & Public Comment

Save Wilmington from Tar Sands - Demand Transparency & Public Comment

Southern California Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is considering a permit application in Wilmington, California, without public comment or disclosure. Valero Energy Corp intends to construct a rail terminal to import for processing 60,000 barrels of diluted bitumen (dilbit) per day from Canada’s tar sands.

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 moving more than 76% of the refinery’s inputs from conventional crude to dilbit could significantly increase air pollution in communities downwind of the refinery, we encourage the district to do the following:

1. Conduct an open and transparent evaluation process, including accepting public comment on the proposed crude-by-rail facility,

2. Increase public participation by widely publicizing the public comment period, and

3. Release all relevant information related to the project for public review.

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 Environmental Quality Act impact analysis.

If there is no risk to human health and the environment, then Valero and SCAQMD should have no issue in sharing the application in full and conducting a transparent review process that includes public comment. We hope that you agree and sign on to our request.

Why is this important?

In May 2013, Valero Energy Crop submitted applications for a rail car unloading system at its Wilmington, CA, refinery that will allow Valero to import (and in turn process) at least 60,000 barrels of diluted bitumen (dilbit) per day from Canada’s Tar Sands. The refinery currently processes negligible amounts of this dirty, climate-disrupting fuel, but this proposal would potentially exchange more than 76% of its refinery input from conventional crude to dilbit.

To date, there has been no public input and important information related to the application has not been made public. Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has confirmed Valero’s application indicates a request to start construction by February 1, 2014. Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and NRDC have submitted a Public Records Request to the Air District for information related to the project, but only the application forms have been provided. Valero, meanwhile, has claimed that all other correspondence, supplemental reports and documentation, and other information vital for evaluating potential impacts of the facility should remain confidential.

The project could result in significant impacts to our communities and environment. This is of particular concern for the low-income community of Wilmington which is surrounded by five oil refineries and bears a disproportionate burden of toxic pollution as a result.

Los Angeles communities experience higher rates of asthma, because they 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 these communities should be evaluated carefully through an open process that encourages public participation.

It is vital that the public be allowed to evaluate this project’s effects on health, air quality, safety and the climate, especially given the safety issues of processing high-sulfur crude like dilbit. By increasing supplies of dilbit into the refinery, local communities run the risk of increased health impacts from air pollutants. Many studies have found that refining dilbit releases into the air greater concentrations of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, various heavy metals, and other harmful pollutants.

Given the highly corrosive nature of bitumen, there also stands the chance of increasing corrosion-related accidents that pose similar spill risks as the recent pipe failure in at the Chevron Richmond Refinery that sent more than 15,000 local residents to area hospitals. 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.

Petition Created By
Tar Sands Action SoCal []
SoCal Climate Action Coalition 350 []
WilderUtopia []

Wilmington, Los Angeles, CA

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL

Reasons for signing

  • The So CAL Air District must weigh the cumulative negative effects of permitting a teminal for importing tar sands intended for Valero's Wilmington refinery, which means increasing GHG from processing the world's dirtiest, corrosive type of crude product. It's an outrage that SoCal's District believes it can grant a permit without public scrutiny of all that this project entails, (direct and indirect operations and impacts.) -- Marilyn Bardet, Benicia CA
  • This is a huge threat, not only for climate change, but also for local air quality and all the people along the rail lines.
  • THis is a democracy. A polluting oil company only interested in profit should not be allowed to run roughshod over rights of citizenship.


2013-09-26 09:02:22 -0700

100 signatures reached

2013-09-24 00:14:24 -0700

50 signatures reached

2013-09-23 11:31:19 -0700

25 signatures reached

2013-09-21 10:07:14 -0700

10 signatures reached