Living Downstream

occupy richmond 4 20 2012 dan arauz flickrIn this podcast, “Smackdown: City Hall vs. Big Oil,” you heard about the struggle between the citizens of Richmond, Calif. fighting oil giant Chevron over control of city hall. For further information about refinery towns, organizations fighting oil refineries, cities part of the national movement to combat climate change and other aspects discussed in this podcast, we have provided additional links to articles, statistics and maps. 

[Image: Community demonstrates against Chevron, April 20, 2012. Credit: Daniel Arauz, Flickr]

Richmond, unique in its successful removal of Chevron from city hall, is not the only city in California living in the shadow of Chevron. What other towns in the U.S. encounter the same issues as Richmond? Are they all, like Richmond, low income communities of color? (The University of Michigan provides a chart of the ethnic composition of Richmond) The LA Times journalist Robin Abcarian writes about another town, El Segundo, dominated by a massive Chevron refinery. Unlike Richmond, El Segundo is not a predominantly African American community. El Segundo, Chevron’s second refinery after Richmond, whose refinery is known as El Primero, has a primarily white population. Abcarian discusses the creation of the city of El Segundo, the effect of the Chevron refinery on the citizens’ lifestyles and the locals’ pride of El Segundo, despite the stench. 

Nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice provides a map of the refineries in the U.S. with details about each refinery. Earthjustice aims to get oil refineries to clean up the pollution that they create. 

Other organizations and environmental activists such as 350 Bay Area and Chevron Watch also monitor the effects of refineries and combat the environmental and health threats posed by these refineries. 

Richmond is commonly known as the asthma capital of the country. In this podcast, Andrés mentioned how asthma clubs are being created at schools instead of book clubs. Danielle Parenteau, writing for Richmond Confidential, delves into the role of Chevron in Richmond and how the high asthma rates cannot be directly attributed to the oil refinery, despite overwhelming evidence. Parenteau writes about the role of Chevron in Richmond as the biggest property tax payer, highest employer and a large contributor to charities, and how it will not admit to contributing to the high asthma rates. 

Near the end of the podcast, reporter Claire Schoen mentions how Richmond is part of a national movement of cities and counties who are stepping up to the climate challenge. 400 U.S. cities have committed to uphold the Paris Agreement by retrofitting buildings to make them energy efficient or installing LED street lights. Although President Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, Global Climate Action Summit co-chairs former Governor Jerry Brown and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg created America’s Pledge. In this pledge, states, cities, businesses and universities declare support for the Paris Agreement and aim for greenhouse gas reduction targets. 

A quick guide to the resources listed on this page:

Environmental News

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