For years, the prospect of the refinery closing was only a threat Chevron used against us, to silence calls for public health protections and fair corporate taxes. But lately the scenario of a refinery closure is much more visible, with refineries in Rodeo and Martinez both announcing in the past year that they were halting fossil fuel processing. The economic effects of Covid 19 have rocked the oil industry, and that has speeded up a process that was already underway to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources. The end of oil refining is actually in sight. Even General Motors realizes this and has planned to end its production of gas-powered cars by 2035.
What is clear from the sudden closure of the Martinez refinery is that the workers, cities and the county have not been preparing to transition out of our relationship with fossil fuel corporations. What is the plan for the clean-up and re-use of the land? What training and support will help fossil fuel workers find new jobs or dignified retirement? What new local, regenerative economy will provide jobs, tax revenue, and business opportunities? What support will there be for all the people who live with the asthma, heart disease, cancer and other ailments linked to the refinery’s pollution? Now is the time for us to start implementing our own just transition plan that puts human beings and the environment at the center.
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