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Bay Area Weighs Refinery Emissions Cap That Would Bar Tar Sands/Oil Sands Bitumen

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A move by California to cap greenhouse gas and particulate emissions from oil refineries could prevent the San Francisco Bay area from accepting Canadian tar sands/oil sands bitumen for processing.

If the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) accepts Refinery Rule 12-16 at a meeting May 17, it will “enforce a cap based on historic emissions levels at the five major Contra Costa and Solano county refineries,” the East Bay Express reports.

Air Quality District executive staff “oppose the emissions cap, which they say would be illegal under state law. They also say it could lead to oil price spikes, a stance shared by the industry,” the Express notes.

Senior state officials are about to enter the debate, which will ultimately be decided by the two dozen members of the BAAQMD board of directors. Since “several BAAQMD directors have said they prefer that local rules dovetail with California’s climate programs,” the outcome could hinge on the forthcoming intervention from California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey.

While the content of Corey’s letter is unknown, “members of the Brown administration agreed to send the letter during a December 12 meeting with representatives of climate justice groups,” writes Express correspondent Will Parrish.

Emissions caps proponents say Refinery Rule 12-16 is urgently necessary to rein in atmospheric and local pollution alike,” Parrish reports. “California refineries are attempting to replace declining Southern California and Alaska oil supplies with cheaper, but more polluting, sources such as the Canadian tar sands, a sticky mixture of sand, clay, and bitumen that involves flaying Canada’s carbon-rich boreal forest.”