RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #159
Join Our Mailing List





Richmond Progressive Alliance   

1/31: OPEN RPA Meeting for members & friends
1/28: Rally & Chem Safety Brd Meeting
2/7: Real Climate Leadership: Ban Fracking
What's wrong with crude-by-rail permit here
Election Victory Reflections
"This is Climate Justice" Stars Richmond
Refinery-Rail News
2/2: Get on the bus to cut smog
Save 2/22 to Celebrate & Appreciate Gayle
2/5: Building Strength CA Gala
Richmond City IDs for us all

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


Open meeting of the RPA Sat., 1/31, 2-5pm, at 1021 Macdonald 
Moving our election victory forward!
RPA Logo

An invitation: Food. Analysis. Discussion. Engagement. 

How can the RPA support the changes Richmond needs?  What do you want to do?  How can we best work together?


As the swearing in ceremony of the Team Richmond candidates earlier this month demonstrated, this is a new day in Richmond.  The Richmond Progressive Alliance seeks to work together in continuing to help make Richmond better with people who share our core beliefs:

  • UNITY - One Richmond: African-American, Asian, Latino/a, Native American, white, united for the good of all.
  • DEMOCRACY - Government of, by, for the people; all the people, not just those rich enough to buy influence.
  • DIVERSITY - of ideas: Democrats, Greens, independents, or other.  We hold different views sometimes but when diverse races, ethnicities, and cultures join forces in a democracy, there's no greater power on Earth.  

Whether or not you are formally a member of RPA, if you share these beliefs and a desire to continue building a better Richmond through working together, please join us this Saturday, January 31! 


There'll be an opportunity for new members to join and current members to update their status.  


If you'd like to join now, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Or, to avoid printing and snail-mailing, you can:

  •  send an email to info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution helps us keep dues more affordable for those with low income and is welcomed.

                   --Kathleen Wimer & Patsy Byers for the RPA Membership Committee 

Wed., 1/28, Rally at 5, Meeting at 6, in Plaza & Council Chambers*
Final CSB report on August '12 Chevron fire

The Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC) and other allies are holding a rally for refinery safety at 5pm tomorrow in the Civic Center Plaza, immediately before the public meeting where the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will present its third and final report.  Included will be the safety recommendations developed through its investigation of  the August 6, 2012, fire at the Richmond Chevron Refinery.  From the REJC announcement:
  • We support the CSB's call for more corrosion resistant metals in the piping,
  • We support the CSB's call for workers right's to shut down operations during a chemical leak or other dangerous refinery operation,
  • We support the CSB's call for strengthening the existing municipal and county Industrial Safety Ordinance as specified,
  • We thank the CSB for confirming illegal management decisions nearly killed 20 workers and sent more than 15,000 residents to the hospital.
  • We also call for a limitation on the quality of the dirty or volatile crude stock refined by Bay Area refineries in order to ensure they meet refinery emission reduction goals and enhance safe operations.

Show up in support of these points and of the United Steelworkers, whose contract with Chevron expires at midnight January 31. 

Inside Council Chambers, following the 6pm presentation by the CSB, members of the audience will have an opportunity to comment on the draft report. This draft report addresses additional findings not covered in the two previously-approved CSB reports. This draft is now available on the CSB website at http://www.csb.gov/chevron-refinery-fire/ to provide us with an opportunity to review it ahead of the public meeting.  There are 25 open recommendations listed there, with 5 directed to the Richmond Mayor and City Council.  (Also available is the animated video reconstruction of the incident, produced by the CSB.)

The hearing is free and open to the public.  Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. To register for the event, please send email to csbmeeting@csb.gov.  
Investigators in Richmond, early Aug. 2012. Photo source: CSB Website

In his Contra Costa Times article of 1/24, Robert Rogers reports that the CSB found that the fire resulted from "regulatory shortcomings and a flawed safety culture within the company [Chevron] and was compounded by an inadequate emergency response by company crews... ."    


*Richmond City Council Chambers 
440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond

Sat., 2/7, 11:30am at Oscar Grant Plaza, near 12th St. BART:
Demand a Fracking Ban in California!


Tell Governor Brown you want fracking shut down! We'll meet in Oakland at Oscar Grant Plaza (near 12th St. BART) and march to a rally at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater, with plenty of music, dancing, and creative energy* along the way.


The march organizers are asking: "If Governor Brown really cares about climate issues, how can he ignore the emissions from fracking, the billions of gallons of oil industry wastewater injected into aquifers, and the health problems associated with fracking in the Central Valley, Los Angeles and beyond?" We deserve better; we demand real climate leadership.


Volunteers are needed for the BART Blitz leafletting tomorrow, Wednesday, 1/28, & Monday, 2/2, 4-7pm.  Sign up by email to mrclvolunteer@350.org.    


*Here's a preview: The "Animals Against Extinction" contingent --yes, that includes us!-- will have dozens of creatures represented, with a whale skeleton supported by 10 people among them!  Bring your kids, and simple musical instruments such as rattles, tambourines, kazoos, recorders, drums, etc.  As one organizer wrote: "While the message will be somber, the experience will be joyful."  There's a "a get acquainted with your animal semi-dress rehearsal" on Saturday, 1/31.  Go to http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/march_with_animals_against_extinction for details and location.  Or meet up right before the march, at 10:30, at the origin of San Pablo, near 16th Street, in the northern most point of the Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant triangle.  Look for the large, yellow banner.  To help create banners, puppets, and other art for the march, join Sunday's Art Party.     


Visit the March for Real Climate Leadership website to learn more.  

Pressure building on BAAQMD:
Revoke Kinder Morgan Crude-by-Rail Richmond Terminal permit

[Ed. note: The Richmond Progressive Alliance recently signed on with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Sierra Club, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Sunflower Alliance, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and other environmental groups, urging that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) revoke the permit it issued to Kinder Morgan to transport crude oil by rail to Richmond.  Here's some background on the issue and the basis for this latest effort.  Richmond City Council, the WCCUSD School Board, and others have also already called for revocation.]

The more you know about the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) staff's permitting of Kinder Morgan's shift into storing and distributing rail shipments of North Dakota Bakken crude oil, the more upset you should get. And not surprisingly, some of the issues are similar to ones we saw in the Environmental Impact Report for the Chevron Modernization Project. Simply put, the data used by our regulators is often seriously incomplete and sometimes shockingly biased. It's almost as if they work for Chevron and Kinder Morgan. This is what has to stop. We need to insist on complete, honest and conservative data - our health and safety is at stake. Fortunately, pressure is now building on the BAAQMD Board to set higher standards for staff work and to revoke the flawed Kinder Morgan permit.

Here's a simplified summary of what happened with BAAQMD and Kinder Morgan
  • September 2013 - mile long 100 car trains start bringing Bakken crude to Richmond. The vapor pressure in these cars is roughly ten times greater than the pressure in cars bringing ethanol which was the previously permitted activity. Emissions are greater, both in the transfer to storage and in the transportation through the community. And risk of explosion is also greater. Permit is under development but not issued yet.
  • February 2014 - final permit issued by BAAQMD staff without any public review. Permit asserts that total emissions for the crude oil activity will be the same as for the ethanol activity. Emissions were estimated using an EPA default value for conventional crude oil volatility (pressure) even though it is well known that Bakken crude is at least twice as volatile. Source emission data collected in November and December 2013 was incomplete and generally exceeded permit levels. Data was not incorporated into the permit file.
  • Health risk analysis was incomplete and biased. The top cancer risk associated with the transport of crude oil is benzene. The BAAQMD's staff analysis showed an increase of 4 cases of cancer per million for the project whereas the likely increase is well over 40 per million. Organic hydrocarbon emissions (ROGs) will similarly be at least ten times greater than the previous emissions. No analysis of the impact of increases in other toxic air contaminants was done.

The permitting of this conversion was done without any transparency, and the analysis performed was shoddy and unacceptable. It was also illegal. The increases in benzene and organic hydrocarbons are far greater than the significance thresholds set by BAAQMD for CEQA review. 


For the next three to six months, the two most important environmental battles for everyone in Richmond are getting this permit revoked and ensuring that continuous improvement is baked into the new refinery emission regulations that are under development. Forcing actual emissions reduction over the next ten years will create jobs and actually improve our health - more on this soon.

                                                                                                     --Jeff Kilbreth   


[Public pressure may help move BAAQMD to revoke the permit.  Send emails to: Jack Broadbent, Executive Officer/APCO, at jbroadbent@baaqmd.gov and John Gioia, District I Contra Costa County Supervisor and BAAQMD Board of Directors member, at john_gioia@bos.cccounty.us ]   
Reflecting on the election victory?
Here are 2 recent pieces on people power here.


Jane Slaughter came to Richmond from Detroit for six weeks this summer to volunteer with the Team Richmond campaign.  [Thanks, Jane!]  Now she's offered her analysis in a Labor Notes article that asks: "How did the Davids of RPA beat the Chevron Goliath?"  Part of her answer:  

RPA showed that it's possible to take on a big corporation and win --by being clear that you are taking on that big corporation. RPA didn't straddle the fence or make nice. It promised to stand up for the needs of the community over Chevron's profits.

Two of Tom Butt's campaign staffers, Alex Knox and Zak Wear, share their perspective on how the vote was generated in their Social Policy piece, where they write: "...what truly determined the progressive slate victory was a dedication by the RPA to standing on years of organizing success and becoming more than just an election machine. Every action, initiative and campaign that the RPA had successfully engaged in the past came together to culminate in the strong political coalition that had the confidence to lead a diverse voting base in a positive direction to victory."

If you worked on the campaign in any capacity, how does your experience fit?  Share it at the RPA Meeting on Saturday, 1/31, 2-5pm, BBPC, 1021 Macdonald.

Yes, it's a long newsletter.  Give yourself a little break.
Speaking of David(a) vs. Goliath:

Watch the 2 1/2 minute video, "This Is Climate Justice," produced by This Planet TV, featuring Richmond, here.  [Sorry, I cannot embed this video. --PB]   
More refinery-rail news: 2 causes for alarm & 1 for hope
Let's pay attention.

"A U.S. federal court has ordered a halt in proceedings until May in a case centering around oil-by-rail tankers pitting the Sierra Club and ForestEthics against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). As a result, potentially explosive DOT-111 oil tank cars, dubbed 'bomb trains' by activists, can continue to roll through towns and cities across the U.S. indefinitely." [Source.]

In a recent letter to the Richmond mayor and city council, Karen Juster Hecht warns of the hazards of pet coke, which is also moving through Richmond.  Not a fluffy high fructose beverage but a carbonaceous refinery waste product, "it is apparently being gathered from the area refineries and shipped to China from the Levin Richmond terminal and the Sims Metal facility.  ...At these facilities, prior to shipment, these huge piles of pet coke sit waiting to be loaded, totally uncovered.  It is a shocking sight to encounter the enormous piles and to see the huge transports of open rail cars, loaded to overflowing, traveling within yards of Marina Bay and other residences.  The black pet coke dust, of course, travels from these piles into our homes and businesses...and into our lungs...."  Some cities have already taken action to limit petroleum coke shipment and storage.  Let's keep Richmond as an environmental leader.  Read the full letter on the RPA website.

Once again, "Don't mourn, organize."  Railroad Workers United will be holding a day-long conference, "The Future of Rail: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment," on March 14 at the Richmond Recreation Center (3230 Macdonald). Get more info and registration forms here. 
"California cities have the dirtiest air in the nation."
Go to EPA hearing on smog reduction, Sac'to 2/2.

From a Sierra Club mailing:  

"And according to the American Lung Association, California cities have the dirtiest air in the nation. But right now, we have a big opportunity to clean up California's air.

"On February 2, the US EPA is planning to hold a hearing in Sacramento on smog, and how poor air quality affects Californians.

"However, the only way the EPA will strengthen the current smog standard enough to protect our families is if we ask for it. They need to see hundreds of us at this public hearing demanding clean air." 

The Sierra Club is organizing buses to go to Sacramento.  They will be leaving at 8:30AM from the Richmond BART and returning by 5PM at Richmond BART.  It's free, and lunch will be provided, too. To learn more, or to sign on, check here.     
Save the Date: Sat., 2/22, 5-7pm, Grace Lutheran Church:
Community Celebration in Appreciation for Gayle

Thurs., 2/5, 6:30-8:30pm, Impact Hub, 2323 B'way, Oakland :
Building Strength 2015 California Gala

Dear Friends,


I'm writing to invite you to the Building Strength 2015 California Gala, organized by the ACCE Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy, on February 5 in Oakland.  The Gala will be a great opportunity to learn about the close and powerful working relationship between the two organizations and the vital work they do to build power and opportunity for California's low-income families, immigrants, and communities of color. I'm really proud that they will be celebrating the work I've done in Richmond in recent years, along with three incredible honorees who I'll be very proud to stand beside: Randi Weingarten, Ludovic Blain, and john powell.


CPD is a national organization that works to create equity, opportunity and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high impact, base-building organizations, organizing alliances and progressive unions. CPD works with a network of 30 state partners in 27 states, plus 11 national core partners. ACCE Institute is a core partner organization of CPD. Formed in 2010, ACCE is dedicated to improving the conditions in low and moderate income communities in California. As you know, I've stood side-by-side with ACCE on many key fights in recent years and am privileged to count them as close allies.


CPD is also the institutional home of Local Progress, the national network of progressive local elected officials that I help lead. I'm excited about the work we do together and hope that you'll be able to join this great evening. You can purchase tickets or make a donation here: http://www.populardemocracy.org/gala/purchase.   






Randi Weingarten

President, American Federation of Teachers

Ludovic Blain

Executive Director, Color of Democracy Fund

john powell

Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law

Gayle McLaughlin

Richmond City Councilwoman

Please Join Us On 

February 5, 2015 - 6.30 - 8.30pm 

Impact Hub, Oakland

2323 Broadway Street Oakland, California


Tickets & Sponsorship Available at:



A reminder: You can get a Richmond Municipal ID Card
Valid identification for all Richmond residents

The Richmond Municipal ID Card is accepted by the Police Department and all city agencies as a valid form of identification.  Help spread the word about this new resource.  It's very easy to apply and get a card! 

You can drop by the office in Grace Lutheran Church (24th and Barrett)  M-F, 9-5, or make an appointment on the website, www.richmondcityid.com.  The website has info on which documents to bring.  The fee for the card is $15.  After submitting the application, it takes about a month to receive the card.
The last (& completely different) thing:
CODEX V book fair coming to Craneway 2/8-11.

"The Book Fair offers four days of access to 200 of the world's leading fine presses and book artists.  We are very excited to note that we have a record number of exhibitors representing all parts of the world including: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States." --Info's here. 
Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article

Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading


RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.