Home » Judge Sides With Environmental Groups Over Biofuel Plans At 2 Contra Costa Refineries

Judge Sides With Environmental Groups Over Biofuel Plans At 2 Contra Costa Refineries


Environmental groups won a legal challenge against two biofuel projects slated for refineries in Martinez and Rodeo following a ruling in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Friday.

The lawsuits claimed that the planned biofuel conversions had flawed environmental review processes, violating the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

The refineries would change from processing crude oil to producing fuel from vegetable oil and animal fat feedstocks.

The court found that the county failed to properly assess ways to reduce odors from the refinery planned for both the Marathon-Tesoro refinery in Martinez and the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo.


Judge Edward Weil ordered that the county set aside its environmental review and redo flawed sections for the Rodeo project, and that it improve its odor mitigation measures for the Martinez project. The court, however, is not ordering a halt in construction for the Rodeo refinery.

Both biofuel refinery projects are thus not off the table, as both will be reconsidered by the court after the county revises its CEQA evaluations by mid-August.

“CEQA is California’s bedrock environmental law, meant to provide decisionmakers and the public with vital information,” said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environmental groups that filed the suit. “In the face of the significant environmental and community harms these projects would cause, the county’s incomplete reviews were inexcusable.”

The Rodeo refinery would produce more than a billion gallons per year of biofuel products, making it one of the largest biofuel refineries in the world, while the Martinez refinery would produce 700,000 gallons of biofuel per year, making it one of the largest in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity press release.


In addition to the impacts that processing biofuels has on climate change and food prices, the environmental groups cited concerns about the operation of the refineries, including the number of truck trips, railcars and ship and barge visits annually that each would require.

Combined, the projects would call for 82,000 truck trips, nearly 29,000 railcars and more than 760 ship and barge visits annually, according to the press release.

Communities surrounding the proposed refineries are already vulnerable, and categorized as “disadvantaged” by the state, due to their high exposure to pollution from existing industries.

“We hope that (Friday’s) decision mark a turning point, one that begins to reverse a legacy of fossil fuel harm and advance a just transition to the equitable future that Martinez and Rodeo residents have fought so long and so hard for,” said Ben Clark, a student attorney for the law clinic representing Communities for a Better Environment, the other environmental group that filed the suit.

The refineries and the county were not immediately available for comment.


ON DA July 25, 2023 - 2:32 PM - 2:32 PM

It’s about time some common sense HAS prevailed.

Lou July 25, 2023 - 3:24 PM - 3:24 PM

Center for Biological Diversity, where is the diversity? No wonder we can’t build anything in this state. How many jobs lost? Were screwed.

Doremi July 25, 2023 - 3:39 PM - 3:39 PM

Pollution is caused by private jets. Ground them. No privileges for the very few. The wealthy must admit their grotesque participation in polluting our Earth. Use Skype. Do this for ONE month. The world will SEE the difference.

Oh, please July 25, 2023 - 6:59 PM - 6:59 PM

If all we do is prevent China and India from breeding, the world’s pollution would just resolve.

Larry July 26, 2023 - 11:04 AM - 11:04 AM

Stop politicians from flying all over the country and world for campaigning and attending “climate conferences”. Talk about hypocrisy!!!

Doremi July 27, 2023 - 7:38 AM - 7:38 AM

Thanks for the outrage fellow citizens. Downing the private jets alone would end air pollution. No privileges for the rich. They are killing Mother Earth! Bill Gates, no more travel or Hamburgers for you!

Angry American July 25, 2023 - 3:53 PM - 3:53 PM

Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey!

Exit 12A July 25, 2023 - 4:08 PM - 4:08 PM

County staff, like most local jurisdictions, lacks the expertise to prepare the environmental analysis and likely hired a consultant to prepare the report. Who was the consultant(s)? And who chose the consultant(s)?
What was the environmental determination? A negative declaration (no impact)? A mitigated neg dec (mitigation to less than significant levels)? Statement of overriding considerations?

JG27 AD July 25, 2023 - 4:33 PM - 4:33 PM

Good, now all those fine enviro-products and the good jobs that are needed to make them can go to our friends the Red Chinese!!!

Original G July 25, 2023 - 5:20 PM - 5:20 PM

Ever get tired of being the lab rats being experimented on by DEMs and their minions running this state?
An keep in mind you end up paying for their experimentation’s.

yoyohop July 25, 2023 - 7:04 PM - 7:04 PM

I thought fossil fuels were bio-fuels. Like we were all taught in school – fossils come from dinosaur bones right ? 😉

Are bio-fuels really better for the environment? Seems the real costs, after government subsidies, etc are easy to obscure.

Angry American July 26, 2023 - 4:08 PM - 4:08 PM


Clydes Son July 25, 2023 - 8:03 PM - 8:03 PM

As a “disadvantaged” neighbor, I actually appreciate them doing their due diligence to make sure we aren’t huffing animal fat 24/7 once they’re operational.

burnbabyburn July 26, 2023 - 4:20 PM - 4:20 PM

FYI – They are already operational and making biofuel from biofeed.

dude July 25, 2023 - 8:05 PM - 8:05 PM

One of my customers is working on the project for the biodiesel conversions. He said if you think the water treatment plant stinks, just wait until the bioddiesel is up and running. He said it will stink at least 10 times worse!! Looks like the environmentalists did right on this one. I rarely agree, but this one seems right on. They will need to design it with more odor scrubbing otherwise every neighborhood and and freeway ride with stink to high heaven within at least 1-3 miles.

No Excuses July 26, 2023 - 2:25 AM - 2:25 AM

bio diesel plant gonna smell like bacon for breakfast….all the time!

Dr. Jellyfinger July 26, 2023 - 7:16 AM - 7:16 AM

Some new pollutant to dump on Martinez?
Well….. variety is the spice of life!

Doremi July 26, 2023 - 7:41 AM - 7:41 AM

I volunteer all private jets to use biofuels. Just for a month or two.

WC July 26, 2023 - 10:11 AM - 10:11 AM

“Get rid of gas and get envrionmentally friendly biodiesel,” they cried.

“What? They want biodiesel? Ban it!” they cried.

No matter what they want us living in caves, eating bugs.


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