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Cap-and-Trade Showdown: Will Big Oil Have the Last Word?

July 14, 2017

Capital and Main,

Judith Lewis Mernit,

July 12, 2017-

Sprawling across nearly 3,000 acres of coastal tidelands in Richmond, California, the Chevron oil refinery sends more than 4.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. The 250,000 barrels of crude it turns into usable fuels every day make it consistently one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters of any stand-alone facility in the state. It also puts more traditional pollutants into the air, such as smog-forming nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter, tiny bits of soot that lodge in human lungs.

While the carbon dioxide poses no direct threat to any individual human’s health — its effects are long-term and global — the other pollutants kill more quickly and locally. The mostly low-income residents who breathe the air around the refinery suffer from higher rates of cancer and heart disease than do people who live elsewhere in Contra Costa County. Asthma among children is rampant. The smog and soot are in large part to blame.

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