San Francisco, CA:
As Berkeley mayor Tom Bates entered the building at 939 Ellis St., one protester quickly illustrated why there was so much public interest in an early morning board meeting:
"Local officials need to understand that this is URGENT!"
BAAQMD Chair, Ash Kalra, made clear at the beginning of this meeting that it was purely an ‘informational’ meeting. No ‘action items’ (votes) were on the agenda. However, environmental activists from all over the Bay Area packed the meeting and overflow room (and public comment time) to make sure the meeting was as informational as possible.
Representatives from Communities for a Better Environment (organizer Andrés Soto in the video above), 350 Bay Area, The Sierra Club and Idle No More, as well has concerned citizens spoke during the meeting after holding a speak-out before the Bay Area Air Quality District Management meeting on 12/4.
What is being contested is the cluster of big oil refinery projects (upgrades etc) in the Bay Area (including Chevron in Richmond and Valero in Benicia) that are going forward in planning and application processes, without a cohesive plan to keep the people and local environment safe.
Activists are pushing to get the BAAQMD to officially look at these projects as a whole, and treat them as such in permitting etc. During the meeting there was an announcement of a rule in progress which could do just that. Since there seems to be an abundance of disjoined data and misinformation coming from the refinery projects, there was also a call for the air district to put a halt to all of the application process until all of the accurate information was known about the environmental impacts etc of all of these projects.
"Hey hey! Ho ho! Big Oil projects have got to go!"
Make sure to view the rest of the speaker videos at my For A Bit More Context youtube channel.
For my live tweets and photos from this event, visit my TWITTER.