Senator Lena Gonzalez Announces Legislation to Strengthen the Refinery Fence-line Monitoring Program and Protect the Health of Surrounding Communities
Sacramento, Calif. – On February 16, 2023, Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) introduced Senate Bill 674 The Refinery Air Pollution Transparency and Reduction Act, to strengthen the state’s refinery fence-line monitoring program. The bill would help protect the health of communities living near refineries by establishing standard fence-line air monitoring requirements, including quarterly emissions reports and root cause analyses of any threshold exceedances. SB 674 would also expand the definition of refineries to include biofuel refineries and auxiliary facilities.
It has been over half a decade since the state enacted legislation requiring petroleum refineries to install and maintain air monitoring systems that would be used to provide real-time data and alerts to nearby communities at risk of exposure from high levels of contaminants. Flaws in the implementation of the program, however, have resulted in serious deficiencies and an overall lack of transparency and accountability.
“Our communities have a right to know how refinery operations are impacting the quality of the air they breathe,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “It is not ok to leave these families, first responders, and workers in the dark until it is too late and they are left to deal with the consequences of poor vigilance and lack of transparency. We must strengthen the air monitoring program in place at these facilities and continually strive to reduce emissions by assessing and modernizing implementation methods to improve our air quality.”
“Since AB 1647 was enacted five years ago, refineries have bullied the air districts into giving them all kinds of unlawful exemptions and loopholes, making it impossible to implement the fence-line monitoring program effectively,” said Oscar Espino-Padron, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice’s Community Partnerships Program. “We now have a weak patchwork of rules that vary across the state, instead of the strong and uniform blanket of protections for communities living near refineries that the Legislature intended. This bill will strengthen this vital program and finally hold refineries accountable for their harmful impacts and hazardous emissions.”
“This bill isn’t revolutionary; it is the bare minimum that refineries can do to provide any semblance of transparency to the thousands of Californians living on the fence-line of the 19 refineries operating across our state,” said Jan Victor Andasan, Community Organizer at East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. “This bill provides our communities with vital information and some basic safeguards that we need to protect our families from refineries’ most harmful impacts.”
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family. Website of Senator Lena Gonzalez: www.sen.ca.gov/gonzalez
Earthjustice’s Community Partnerships Program (CPP) provides legal and advocacy resources to local leaders demanding a safe, just, and healthy environment in which their communities can thrive – no matter how long the fight. CPP works hand-in-hand with frontline communities to remove environmental hazards and secure access to environmental benefits. CPP acts collectively with our community partners to challenge harmful social and political structures, and to improve the environmental conditions in neighborhoods. CPP supports community-led movements using a full range of advocacy strategies to challenge the status quo.
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) is a community-based organization that works to facilitate self-advocates in East Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles and Long Beach. EYCEJ is working towards a safe and healthy environment for communities that are disproportionately suffering the negative impacts of industrial pollution.