Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 17, 2015

Contact:  Irene Gutierrez, Earthjustice, 415-217-2123,
Roger Lin, Communities for a Better Environment, 510-302-0430, x16
Patrick Sullivan, Center for Biological Diversity, 415-517-9364,

Lawsuit Targets 30-year Plan for Bay Area Marine Terminal
Receiving Ships Full of Dangerous Crude Oil

Groups Seek Full Environmental Review of Facility's Pollution, Safety Threats to San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO— Environmental groups sued the California State Lands Commission today for approving a 30-year plan for refinery operations at a Suisun Bay marine terminal that will receive hundreds of tankers full of dangerous crude oil feedstocks, including highly explosive Bakken crude.

Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company LLC (“Tesoro”) owns and operates California’s fourth-largest refinery, the Golden Eagle Refinery, located near Martinez, California. The refinery depends on its two marine terminals to import crude oil feedstocks and export finished petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Last month, the California State Lands Commission approved a new, 30-year lease for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal.   

Over the coming years, Tesoro plans to switch to processing lower-cost, lower-quality crude oil feedstocks, like Bakken crude, California heavy crude, and Canadian tar sands, which would be transported through the marine terminals connected to its refinery. These types of crudes are dangerous to transport and difficult and expensive to clean up in the event of spills. 

Recent years have seen a spate of deadly incidents involving these types of oil, like the explosion of a train bearing Bakken crude in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada, which killed 47 people and destroyed nearly half the town. 

Low-quality crudes also burn dirtier than other types of crude feedstocks, releasing greater quantities of air pollutants and other toxins. These pollution burdens would sit heavily on a region of the Bay Area already heavily contaminated by the effects of other nearby refineries — an area whose population suffers from high rates of asthma due to these industrial activities.

But the environmental impact report for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal lease renewal fails to provide full information about the environmental and public health risks posed by the dangerous cargo it will handle over the next 30 years.

“The California State Lands Commission has a duty to protect the public and engage in responsible stewardship of public lands,” said Earthjustice attorney Irene Gutierrez. “It should not allow Tesoro to turn a quick profit, while leaving the public in the dark about the effects of its activities.”     

“This terminal aims to bring oil tankers carrying dirty crude oil, like explosive Bakken crude, into the San Francisco Bay, ramping up the risk of a terrible accident,” said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “State officials shrugged off the dangers of these crude-carrying ships and rubberstamped a 30-year lease for a facility that pollutes our air and increases the threat of a catastrophic oil spill.”
Today’s suit was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment. The lawsuit aims to halt terminal activities until a full environmental review can be completed.

The Center for Biological Diversity ( is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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