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Chevron Tour

Sometimes I get reminded that Richmond is a refinery town.

The biggest corporate property owner, employer, tax payer, and polluter in the city is Chevron. Their relationship with the city is often adversarial, with a business tax measure (T) aimed directly at them 2 years ago, an audit finding $28 million in underpaid taxes last year, and more lawsuits and threatened lawsuits and petitions than I can keep straight. Anita and I get opinion-polled about the company on a monthly basis, and recently the company invited us to a tour of their refinery. It’s the first time in anyone’s memory that they’ve opened their doors to the public, so getting the invitation felt a little like getting a golden ticket. I was expecting to see oompah loompahs or something.

The tour was, of course, tightly controlled. We were on a bus the entire time, and there were no cameras, cell phones, or bags allowed. I was hoping they would show us their restoration project in Wildcat Creek Marsh on the north end of their property, but they kept the tour within the main facilities. I’m not sure what I learned, maybe that they have a lot of pipes (5,000 miles on 2,900 acres) or how they sell the various bi-products of the refining process, including CO2 to carbonated beverage companies. After the tour, they gave us gift bags with aluminum water bottles (made in China), reuseable shopping bags, and some unconvincing literature touting all of the things Chevron does for the community and the environment. The Chevron logo on the shopping bags should cause much envy at the organic market.

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