RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) --In a story you'll see only on ABC7 News, Chevron is ready to make a major concession. It's one the company hopes will lead the city of Richmond to approve Chevron's long-awaited modernization of its refinery there. That announcement comes just one day before the controversial plan is set to go before the city council.
Chevron hopes this offer will be good enough to get the votes it needs to get that long-stalled project back on track. Environmentalists, however, say the company can and should do more.
Nearly two weeks after they got an earful from the public and Richmond's Planning Commission, Chevron has announced it will comply with a stricter environmental proposal, known as Alternative 11, for the company's much-delayed refinery modernization project.
"The environmentally superior alternative does a couple of things," said Chevron spokesperson Nicole Barber. "First, it limits the amount of sulphur that we can produce here at the Richmond refinery and it also sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions associated with our operations."
The proposed $1 billion modernization is one the company claims will bring 1,000 new construction jobs to the city. But critics say it also would allow the plant to process potentially higher polluting crude oil.
The stricter standards were requested by Attorney General Kamala Harris, who asked that the new project effectively reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions, not just hold the line on them.
"Well, we're glad to see that they're willing to move a little bit," said Andres Soto with Communities for a Better Environment.
Soto and the group have been pushing for the stricter standards. He says Communities for a Better Environment is pleased with Chevron's announcement, but would like to see the company go even further.
"Alternative 11 as a standalone does not achieve reduction on emissions and particulate matter that we want to see here in Richmond that will ensure the health and safety of the community," Soto said.
The Richmond Planning Commission approved the project's environmental impact report with conditions. It next goes before the Richmond City Council for a public hearing on Tuesday night.