Building Healthy Communities from the Ground up

New Study: Proposition 23 Backers Among Biggest Polluters in California

The Ella Baker Center and the California Environmental Justice Alliance today released a study that reveals that Valero and Tesoro, the two Texas oil companies bankrolling Proposition 23 to repeal California’s clean air and energy standards, have been repeatedly cited for producing deadly chemicals at their refineries that are exposing millions of California families to harm. Read the Full Report »

The study, titled “Toxic Twins,” found that not only does the two Texas-based companies’ oil refineries in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions “annually produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, but also “the people who bear the biggest health burdens from these facilities are disproportionately people of color.” Populations residing within 2.5 miles of Valero and Tesoro’s toxic facilities in Los Angeles and the Bay Area were 63 percent African American, Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander.

The study goes on to demonstrate that Valero and Tesoro have repeatedly violated pollution laws in California by releasing chemicals into the air. Over 44 violation notices within a three year window have been settled between Tesoro and the Bay Area Quality Management District. This January, “Valero disclosed that it had 29 outstanding Violation Notices from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and is pursuing a settlement,” according to the report.

“This study reveals what Prop 23 is really all about,” said Mayor Newsom. “Prop 23 is a deceptive ballot measure that will harm the emerging clean energy industry, negatively impact the health of Californians, and discourage innovation.”

“We have known all along that Proposition 23 was a deceptive ballot measure,” said Tom Steyer, co-chair of Stop Proposition 23. “While Valero and Tesoro are making their greatest profits in years, the people of California are suffering due to the negligence and dirty business practices of these Texas oil companies.”

“Proposition 23 will hurt all of us – and will be particularly bad for people of color, who live disproportionally close to oil refineries,” said Kim. “We already have too much pollution and too much poverty in California, especially in communities like the Bayview. Clean energy standards have led to hundreds of thousands of jobs and are leading our economic recovery. Californians will not allow out-of-state companies to come in and take these jobs away.”

This study builds on a report by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) “Toxic 100 Air Polluters” report which named Valero and Tesoro as the #12 and #32 polluters in the nation.

We released at a press conference at San Francisco’s Bay View Park attended by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; No on Prop 23 Campaign Committee Co-Chair Tom Steyer; DeAnn McEwen, California Nurses Association; Jane Warner, President, American Lung Association in California; and Ian Kim, Director of the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign, Ella Baker Center.

Other organizations at the press conference opposing Proposition 23 were the American Lung Association of California, the California Nurses Association..