Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Thursday, June 9, 2016

* * *


June 7, 2016 Presidential Primary Election

Mendocino County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Susan M. Ranochak announced that as with any other election, there are ballots that were received on Election Day at our office, polling places and through the mail. We are making every effort to get a preliminary count of the vote by mail ballots and the provisional ballots that we received on Election Day by the end of the day today (Wednesday). There is a lot to do before we can release a count, we are in the process of scanning and checking signatures now, we still have to sort them into precinct order before we can get a preliminary count. We are allowed to, by law, accept and count ballots that are received by June 10th as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. We also can accept those ballots that had questionable signatures or no signature by June 15th. Thank you for your patience, we will release the preliminary count as soon as we possibly can.

(Elections Office Press Release)

* * *

IN FACT, it looks like almost half of Tuesday’s votes remain uncounted countywide. In 2012 there were about 20,000 total votes cast and so far only 11,320 have been counted this year in a similar election cycle (June primary). So we’re not surprised to see the usual vote count disclaimer from the Elections office.

We doubt the outcome for the two county ballot measures will change:

Measure V (Standing Dead Trees Declared Nuisance): So far 6365 for, 4249 against.

And Measure W: (Charter County): So far 4401 for, 5627 against.

BUT THERE ARE ONLY 448 VOTES reported cast concerning Measure U, the Social Services organization zoning restriction for downtown Fort Bragg: 252 against, 196 for.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde, running unopposed in the fourth district got only 1120 votes on Tuesday. But in 2012 also running unopposed he got 3130 out of 3408 votes.

In 2012 when Fort Bragg voted in a special election for a fire equipment parcel tax (which won with 75%) there was a total of almost 1800 votes.

In the May 2013 city council election (Madeline Melo, Heidi Kraut, Derek Hoyle) there were about 1200 votes cast.

And in 2014 when Peters/Cimolino were elected there were about 1400 votes cast.

So there are still a lot of Fort Bragg votes not yet counted. Perhaps as many as three times the 448 reported so far. Which means the Measure U result is very preliminary and could easily change.

Patrick Pekin could also close the gap between himself and Faulder if there are a lot of uncounted North Coast votes.

The Elections office notice posted above is not enough, they did not do a good job explaining the low totals so far. Nobody should put too much stock in these very incomplete numbers, especially Measure U and to some degree in the Faulder-Pekin Superior Court Judge race.

* * *

MEASURE V (Countywide, Standing Dead trees declared nuisance): Yes: 57.3%, No: 42.7%. (So far.) We thought it would pass, toothless as it is, but the Mendocino Redwood Company ran the dumbest campaign for the money they spent (more than $250,000) we can recall. MRC's public relations under Sandy Dean and Mike Jani started out smart and sensitive to the neighbors, but public relations devolved to an arrogant intransigence similar to the bad old days of L-P.

MEASURE W (Countywide, Mendocino County a Charter County): Yes: 40.4%, No: 59.6% No surprise here. W's spokespeople were inarticulate and poorly prepared. Every time they talked they added to the confusion as to what they were trying to do.

* * *


As an AVA contributing journalist and a Measure V ballot proponent I would like to personally thank the voters who recognized public safety is more important than a lumber company’s desire to make more money. If tan oak needs to be removed from timberlands I suggest hand crews do the job while providing more employment, rather than one man in a hazmat suit with a bucket of poison. I was touched to receive e-mails the day after the election from folks thanking me for making the county a safer place to live for this and future generations. Thanks again.

* * *


To the Editor:

Congratulations to Els and Allen Cooperrider, Beth Bosk, Will Parrish, Ed Nieves, Dan Hamburg, and every other environmentalist who worked so hard to get Measure V passed. And thank you to the voters of Mendocino County who had the good common sense to vote "Yes" on Measure V.

Thanks also to those who endorsed Measure V from the very beginning, including: Michael Colton, Firefighter Comptche Volunteer Fire Dept.; Ted R. Williams, Fire Chief Albion Little River Fire Protection District; Katy M. Tahja, Retired Librarian; James Sibbet, Member Comptche Volunteer Fire Dept., Chair. Comptche Community Services Dist.; and Kirk P. Van Patten, Cal Fire Fire Capt. (Ret).

Thank you, too, to the Mendocino Environmental Center ("The MEC") and KMEC Radio 105.1 FM.

Going forward, Measure V will do ten (10) things:

1. Safeguard residents from the dangerous industrial practice of intentionally killing and leaving dead standing trees;

2. Declare this radical practice of "hack and squirt" a PUBLIC NUISANCE and restores corporate accountability;

3. Protect emergency escape routes and critical infrastructure;

4. Put the safety of people ahead of corporate profit;

5. Protect firefighters, many of them volunteers, from unnecessary manufactured perils;

6. Demand honest forest management, requiring project clean up by disallowing manmade hazards from littering the landscape;

7. Shift financial burden from the people to the timberland owner/operator;

8. Provide an exemption for wildlife habitat;

9. Mitigate a controllable hazard from compounding with projected and unknown fire impacts of climate change; and

10. Assert the right of citizens to establish a reasonable standard, where regulators have favored corporate profit over public safety.

Quoting Measure V literature: "State regulators and elected officials have been slow and lax in responding to the concerns of citizens, choosing to protect the bottom-line interests of the largest corporations. Last fall, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency over what he called California’s "worst epidemic of tree mortality in modern history,” yet the largest timber company in Mendocino County continued to 'hack and squirt' without regard to its impacts to residents and firefighters. Instead of pausing, the timber industry attempted to influence public policy by urging citizens NOT to sign the petitions that would put this measure on the ballot."

John Sakowicz, Ukiah

* * *


* * *


Bay Area Warriors fans expecting the Golden State Warriors to sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in four straight games got a wake-up call Wednesday night as the Cavs trounced the Warriors in Cleveland 120-90 in a game that the Warriors never really got into. The Warriors fell behind quickly, unable to right themselves against a galvanized foe. Cleveland started the game with Richard Jefferson in place of the Kevin Love who suffered a concussion from an accidental hit by Harrison Barnes in game 2. Jefferson proved to be difficult for Warriors Center Andrew Bogut. "We thought Bogut played well," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "We just got our tail kicked." From the beginning, Golden State couldn’t create much offense against the speedy, energized Cavs. Suddenly, as Kyrie Irving turned hot out of the pick-and-roll, Cleveland had a 20-point lead. Golden State went small and made a run in the second quarter, cutting the lead to eight by the half without their star MVP Steph Curry who put in an uncharacteristic lackluster performance. His 19-point final tally was more than his uninspired play would indicate. "He did not start the game well," Kerr said. "Turned it over, got beat back door, and he was not his usual self.” A horrid third-quarter beginning was the death knell for Golden State, as the Warriors stubbornly started Bogut and again got beat inside. With Cleveland surging, LeBron James found his rhythm and jump shot, scoring 21 of his 32 points in the second half. What once looked like a one-sided series, now looks like a real finals match. The next game is set in Cleveland Friday night.


* * *

EVERY EDITORIALIST IS POISED TO BLAME BERNIE supporters, after a campaign slog in which Hillary speaks as much about Trump as possible and as little as possible about her war, race and corporate economic record.

— Paul Buhle

* * *


Writing is my livelihood. It has always been a tough racket. I get a lot of letters from young, struggling writers asking for advice. My main message to them has been that talent counts, but perseverance counts more. You really have to hang in there against pretty tough odds. After all, you’re producing work that nobody asked for.

With the rise of the Internet, writing has gotten to be an even tougher racket for true professionals. It has almost fatally disrupted the economics of what’s called “trade publishing” — the book industry. The chain stores and Amazon didn’t help either. These outfits strong-arm publishers into giving them very deep discounts. And guess what: it comes out of the authors’ royalties. We get screwed on that deal sort of like musicians get screwed with their songs on Spotify downloads.

It’s also well-known that few websites pay writers for content, and even if they do, it’s way less than the old newspapers and magazines did. When I wrote for The New York Times Sunday Magazine 25 years ago, they paid a dollar a word. Today, magazines and newspapers are struggling desperately just to stay alive. Meanwhile, writers are lucky to get a dime a word writing for websites — and twenty-five years later that dime won’t buy anything but a cinnamon fireball.

The diminishing returns of technology are killing writing as a professional occupation. Readers are still “consuming” professional writing (for free). Writers are generating more and more work for their followers (for free). So, those of us who really work hard at it (and I do) have to make other arrangements to make a living.

No, I’m Not Getting Rich

I’ve hung in there over a long career and published about twenty books. I’ve seen better times, worse times, and really hard times. My early novels are out-of-print. I pull in about $3,000 a year in total royalties from some of my more recent books. (Other recent books didn’t “earn out” the modest advances I received years ago.) They pay my “company,” Highbrow Productions, Inc. (I’m the sole employee.) Note, they issue payments six months after they report the earnings.

(James Kunstler)

* * *


* * *


On 05-18-2016 at approximately 7:08 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were called regarding a possible physical assault that occurred the previous day at a residence located in the 23500 block of Road 337D (Also known as Charlie Hurt Highway] in Covelo, California.


Upon arrival, Deputies found evidence of a physical assault and contacted potential witnesses. During this initial investigation, Deputies learned Joshua Richard Ruoff, 30 of South Lake Tahoe, had been witnessed assaulting Timothy William Sweeting, 27 of Rohnert Park, with a blunt object on 05-17-2016.

Deputies began a missing persons investigation regarding as Sweeting's whereabouts were unknown and he had no recent contacted with family or friends since the alleged physical assault.

Sweeting's vehicle, a white 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe was missing and Ruoff's whereabouts were also unknown.

Sweeting's Tahoe
Sweeting's Tahoe

Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Investigative Services Bureau responded to the residence where the scene was further examined.

The scene was processed with the assistance of investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office and criminalists from the California Department of Justice.

During the follow up investigations, Sweeting was not located and was considered to be a missing person under suspicious circumstances.

On 05-19-2016 Sweeting's vehicle was located on Mendocino Pass Road, parked on the side of the roadway about a mile from the residence.

As the investigation continued, it was learned Ruoff had rented a U-Haul truck and left the area for the state New Hampshire, where he previously resided.

Detectives contacted the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit and requested their assistance.

The investigation continued and evidence was gathered, including witness statements and physical evidence that supported the belief that Ruoff had murdered Sweeting and disposed of his body.

Initially a felony arrest warrant was sought and issued for Ruoff for felonious assault with a deadly weapon, and on 05-23-2016 the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office filed charges seeking an arrest warrant for murder against Ruoff.

On 05-23-2016 the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics and Investigations Unit located and arrested Ruoff in Concord, New Hampshire.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives traveled to New Hampshire on 05-23-2016 and continued investigations for 2 days with the assistance of the New Hampshire State Police.

Multiple search warrants were served by the New Hampshire State Police at the request of the Sheriff's Detectives.

During the two days in New Hampshire additional evidence was gathered to support the belief Ruoff had murdered Sweeting.


Ruoff was booked into the Merrimack County Jail (Concord, New Hampshire) where he was to be held on a no bail status. Ruoff was challenging extradition to Mendocino County and the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office is working on getting him extradited to Mendocino County.

At this time, the remains of Sweeting have not been located and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who may have information about this case to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Investigative Services Bureau.

If anybody, particularly in the Covelo area sees anything suspicious they are encouraged to call the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4089, or call the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Tip line at 707-234-2100.


On 06-02-2016 at about 6:30 AM, a caller in the 23500 block of Road 337D (Charlie Hurt Highway) in Covelo, called to report suspicious dog activity where possible human remains had been unearthed.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies and Detectives from the Investigative Services Bureau responded and identified human remains in a significant grave site. This grave site was located in proximity to the residence processed as a crime scene in connection with Timothy William Sweeting's disappearance.

Due to the nature of the grave, and the condition of the remains, Anthropologists from the California State University at Chico Anthropology Department were called in to assist in the excavation of the remains.

At this time, the remains have not been positively identified but are suspected to be that of Timothy William Sweeting.

A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for 06-03-2016.


On 06-07-2016 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Division identified the human remains as being Timothy William Sweeting based upon observations of tattoos noted during the forensic autopsy.

A cause of death remains under investigation pending the result of BA/Toxicology analysis.

* * *



On Monday, June 6, 2016 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to 1235 Airport Road regarding a domestic violence incident that occurred in the 3500 block of Taylor Road in Ukiah, California. Upon arrival Deputies contacted a 26 year-old female who indicated she was in a cohabitating relationship with the father of her child, identified as being Luis Miguel Hernandez-Garcia, 34, of Ukiah. Deputies learned at approximately 12:30 PM the 26 year-old female wanted to go to the store but Hernandez-Garcia blocked her vehicle with his vehicle. This prevented her from leaving and Hernandez-Garcia engaged her in an argument. Hernandez-Garcia finally let the victim leave when her brother arrived at the location. The 26 year-old female left the location with Hernandez-Garcia following/tailgating her in his vehicle northbound on State Street. At one point the 26 year-old female pulled over on State Street where Hernandez-Garcia exited his vehicle and walked to her driver side window. Hernandez-Garcia yelled at the 26 year-old female and pulled out a knife displaying it to her in the closed position while telling her he was going to kill her. Hernandez-Garcia struck the drivers side window with his fist while attempting to open her door. The 26 year-old female drove away fearing she would be stabbed to death and subsequently contacted the Sheriff's Office. Hernandez-Garcia was contacted at his residence where he was placed under arrest without incident for false imprisonment and threats to commit crimes resulting in death or great bodily injury. Hernandez-Garcia was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

* * *

CATCH of the DAY, June 8, 2016

Barron, Burns, Cho
Barron, Burns, Cho

EFRAIN BARRON, Hopland. Domestic assault.

TANYA BURNS, Ukiah. DUI-drugs only.

SHARON CHO, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

Cornett, Daughton, Duman
Cornett, Daughton, Duman

LARRY CORNETT, Clear Lake/Ukiah. Vehicle registration forgery, suspended license, probation revocation.

THOMAS DAUGHTON, Willits. Elder abuse, conspiracy.

ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, paraphernalia, no license, parole violation.

Ellison, Finley, Klee
Ellison, Finley, Klee

JHANNA ELLISON, Willits. Elder abuse, conspiracy, probation revocation.

DENNIS FINLEY, Ukiah. DUI causing injury, no license.

EDWARD KLEE, Fort Bragg. Battery, probation revocation.

Matthias, Nieto, Sanderson, Schuleter
Matthias, Nieto, Sanderson, Schuleter

WANA MATTHIAS, Ukiah. Petty theft, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

RAMON NIETO JR., Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

CODY SANDERSON, Laytonville. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

DERRICK SCHULETER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

* * *


by Will Parrish

In recent years, oil corporations have intensified their push to make the San Francisco Bay Area and other areas of the West Coast into international hubs for refining and shipping of one of the world's most carbon-intensive and chemically polluting fuel sources: the Canadian tar sands.

In April, that long-standing effort spilled into Santa Rosa mailboxes.

Constituents of Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane received a letter, addressed to Zane herself, from a group called Bay Area Refinery Workers.

“As a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District,” the letter read, “you'll soon vote on a proposal that will impact our jobs, our refineries and the important work we do refining the cleanest gasoline in the world.”

It asked that Zane “please remember that the Bay Area refineries provide more good-paying union jobs than any private sector employer in the region.”

Twelve refinery employees provided signatures, but the letter was produced and mailed by an organization called the Committee for Industrial Safety (CIS), which is bankrolled by the oil giants Chevron, Shell, Tesoro, and Phillips 66. According to state and federal records, each corporation annually provides the group between $100,000 and $200,000 to advocate on their behalf.

The letter’s apparent aim was to influence Zane's upcoming vote concerning a little-known, but potentially far-reaching, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) regulation called Refinery Rule 12-16. The measure would make the BAAQMD perhaps the nation’s first regional air district to regulate oil refinery emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the pollutants that fuel global climate change.

Zane is one of the BAAQMD’s 22 directors, along with elected officials from nine Bay Area counties extending from Santa Clara in the South Bay to Sonoma and Napa. They will determine the measure’s fate at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting later this year.

Staff members at BAAQMD have proposed four alternative forms of Refinery Rule 12-16. But only one has the support of a coalition of environmental groups and the unions that represent refinery employees: a quantitative limit, or cap, on GHGs.

Because processing the tar sands would dramatically increase greenhouse gas pollution at the refineries under the BAAQMD’s jurisdiction, advocates from groups like Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), an environmental justice organization, say an emissions cap would turn back what they call the Tar Sands Invasion from the San Francisco Bay Area

Critics warn that without the cap, the oil industry will continue pursuing new tar sands infrastructure on the West Coast at a frenetic pace. “We’ve seen them come at us at a ten times faster rate in the last few years,” says CBE Senior Scientist and refinery expert Greg Karras. “Up and down the refinery belt, refineries are retooling for the tar sands and creating infrastructure for export of refined tar sands products overseas.”

Numerous experts have cautioned that expanded production of the tar sands – a sticky mixture of sand, clay and bitumen trapped deep beneath Canada’s boreal forest -- would lock in dramatic increases in global temperatures, with devastating impacts to ecosystems and human societies throughout the globe. A 2015 report in the journal Nature found that trillions of dollars worth of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, (including nearly all remaining tar sands and all Arctic oil and gas), cannot be exploited if global temperature rise is to remain under the two-degrees-centigrade safety threshold to which the world’s nations have agreed.

In an ecologically-minded region like the Bay Area, an emissions cap to stop a dramatic increase in regional tar sands production might seem like a political no-brainer. But staff and some members of BAAQMD say they are concerned that GHG emissions averted in the Bay Area would simply occur somewhere else, since the oil industry would increase production elsewhere. This outcome would render the local Refinery Rule 12-16 ineffectual in curbing climate pollution.

Karras believes the opposite is true. The cap offers local elected officials a rare opportunity, he says, to make a significant contribution to heading off the catastrophic impacts of global warming.

* * *

The San Francisco Bay Area has been a core oil-refining area for over a century. In 1881, Pacific Coast Oil Company opened California’s first refinery on the island of Alameda. Pacific Coast Oil Company went on to become Chevron, rated by Forbes as the world’s 16th wealthiest corporation.

In 2014, the Bay Area’s five refineries, including Chevron’s flagship Richmond facility, processed an average of 754,000 barrels of oil per day (45.5 percent of California’s production total), into gasoline, jet fuel, propane, and other products, much of it exported to surrounding states.

The Bay Area refinery corridor in Contra Costa and Solano counties constitutes the US' second largest oil production center west of the Mississippi. The largest is in Southern California, particularly the South Los Angeles areas of Wilmington and Carson, where the population is over 92 percent Latino, Black, and Asian-Pacific Islander. Most people immediately downwind of the Contra Costa and Solano refineries are also people of color.

As with the tar sands, some of California’s petroleum sources—including Kern County oil fields — are much denser than more conventional, lighter forms of crude. California refineries have developed a unique capacity to refine heavy crudes.

Already, a little over eight percent of oil produced in the US comes from the tar sands. Due to opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, however, the industry has been unable to expand its production in the Louisiana-Texas Gulf Coast. Without the pipeline, say industry experts, it’s left to the West Coast to provide the infrastructure for the tar sands’ specialized production requirements on an increased scale.

“The tar sands are potentially very cheap, and a lot of refineries in California are already optimized to process it,” says Joshua Axelrod, a policy analyst at the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Axelrod is a tar sands expert who co-authored a 2015 report called The West Coast Tar Sands Invasion.

Oil consumption in some Central and Latin American countries is starting to outstrip production, another factor driving the tar sands industry’s West Coast ambitions. California producers could make up the difference via shipments from nearby ports. The 2015 NRDC report concluded that West Coast tar-sands refining could increase eightfold—from 100,000 barrels per day in 2013 to 800,000 — over the next decade.

One argument in favor of the tar sands, repeated by most leaders of the Republican Party and some Democrats, is that greater tar sands production would wean the U.S. from oil sources in more politically hostile regions. Environmental advocates counter that the oil industry already receives more than $1.5 trillion in government subsidies, according to a 2015 International Monetary Fund study, that should instead be dedicated to low-carbon transportation and renewable energy.

* * *

Growing public opposition has slowed the tar sands’ encroachment in recent years, including the grassroots campaign largely responsible for convincing President Barack Obama last year to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. Indigenous people in Western Canada have played a decisive role in delaying two pipelines through British Columbia that would enable large-scale shipments to Washington and California via tanker, barge, and train.

In 2013, Valero announced its intention to bring large volumes of tar sands crude oil into Los Angeles and the Bay Area by rail, and applied for permits to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and BAAQMD. The pipeline proposals were already in limbo, so the company saw railway shipments—up to 70,000 barrels a day, according to the company's permit application — as an alternative. Both the Bay Area and Southern California air districts have granted the permits; the Benicia City Council is set to make a ruling on the Bay Area spur of the project sometime this year.

Phillips 66 already receives a small volume of tar sands via an elaborate delivery system, and the company now proposes new Southern and Northern California rail projects that would bring a far greater quantity of tar sands to each facility.

Other possible projects include a Bakersfield rail hub that would bring tar sands crude to existing California pipelines and rail-to-ship projects in Portland and Vancouver.

A coalition of environmentalists and refinery employees have opposed the oil industry’s push to refine dirtier fuels. The tar sands are a major focus in their efforts, along with Bakken shale oil from North Dakota and other U.S. sources. Among the organizations are the Bay Area chapter of, the Sierra Club, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Sunflower Alliance, Urban Tilth, Idle No More Solidarity Bay Area, CBE, and Steelworkers Union Local 5 — which represents 80 percent of the workers at three refineries.

While climate change impacts are a major focus of this opposition, these groups also oppose the threat that increased tar sands refining poses to public health. Oil refineries have imposed an especially large pollution burden on the low-income people and people of color who have been disproportionately forced, by historical and economic circumstance, to live alongside them.

The same combustion processes that release climate pollution also emit toxic effluents that cause cancer and neurological damage, as well as particulate matter that penetrates lungs and clogs arteries, as the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state and regional air districts have acknowledged.

In a conversation at a restaurant on San Pablo Avenue, in southeast Richmond, CBE Community Organizer Andres Soto, who has lived downwind of Chevron for most of his life, described his community’s struggles with cancer, auto-immune disorders, and other health problems, and linked local struggles to eliminate pollution to the broader climate-change fight.

“You can either move and hope to get away from it, or you can try to fight back and help everybody’s lives,” Soto says. “And I'm not just talking about fighting for people in Richmond or Benicia or Martinez. Because of global warming, I'm talking about the whole planet.”

This merging of climate change and environmental justice activism solidified following a harrowing 2012 episode: A crack in a steel pipe at Chevron’s Richmond refinery caused a fireball to ignite inside the facility. Nineteen workers escaped with their lives. For several hours, the flame was visible throughout the Bay Area. A toxic plume spread over Richmond and San Pablo and prompted 15,000 residents to seek medical treatment.

In response, the BAAQMD proposed a set of refinery regulations geared toward monitoring refinery emissions and requiring further health studies. By 2014, the BAAQMD Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution directing staff to “prepare a strategy to achieve further emissions reductions from petroleum refineries which shall include as a goal a 20 percent reduction in refinery emissions, or as much emissions reductions as are feasible.”

Three years after the Chevron fire, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board pinpointed managerial negligence as one cause. But the main factor was the refinery’s reliance on oil with high sulfur content, which caused rapid corrosion of the pipe. The tar sands contain even more toxic metals and chemicals than Chevron’s existing crude sources, as well as higher concentration of sulfur, the BAAQMD notes, and thus threaten more frequent spills, fires, and explosions.

Frustrated by BAAQMD staff members’ slow progress, numerous environmental groups demanded last year that the agency impose a refinery-wide numerical cap on particulate matter and greenhouse gases. The tar sands are more carbon-intensive and more toxic to refine than conventional crude. Being unusually heavy, tar sands’ bitumen takes more energy than conventional crude to refine into usable products. The refining process also leaves behind large quantities of petcoke, the only fossil fuel the EPA regards as dirtier than coal.

The 2015 Tar Sands Invasion report noted that tar sands oil production causes about three times the carbon pollution of conventional crude, and that 800,000 barrels per day of the sticky substance — the amount the oil industry is pushing to bring to California in the next decade — equals the annual emissions of 33.7 million vehicles.

Meanwhile, existing BAAQMD regulations have reduced smog, but have failed to reduce emissions of very fine, extremely small particles, which are greatly increased in tar sands refining. Particulate matter is already causing an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 deaths in the Bay Area — it’s the region's most lethal pollutant. Refineries are the largest industrial source of GHGs and particulate matter pollution alike, with refined products — namely, gas and diesel burned in vehicles — being the biggest source overall.

Yet, BAAQMD staff declined to include the particulate matter emissions-cap proposal as part of Refinery Rule 12-16. Instead they proposed four possible means of regulating GHG pollution: a refinery-wide emissions cap; limits on GHG emissions from specific pieces of refinery equipment; restricting refinery emissions of methane; and a two-pronged regulatory structure like one in Washington State that requires refineries either to increase their energy efficiency or reduce GHG emissions by a set amount by 2025.

At a June 1 BAAQMD committee meeting in San Francisco, executive officer Jack Broadbent acknowledged that three of the measures would take years to study and implement. The only option that could happen quickly is a cap.

But Broadbent and other BAAQMD staff members were strongly critical of the cap idea and asserted that they had no legal authority to implement it. Staff member Eric Stevenson said in an interview that “the biggest flaw” in the emissions-cap proposal is that it would “cause production to go somewhere else to meet the demand in California, so that you don’t end up achieving an overall reduction in emissions.”

About 50 proponents of an emissions cap attended the meeting and several said the BAAQMD should adopt all four of the proposals. Some noted that the cap would be a first step in meeting the Air District’s long-range goal of reducing regional GHG emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Refineries are responsible for roughly 15 percent of Bay Area GHGs.

“It’s really absurd, in the truest sense of the word, that these folks from communities alongside refineries have to be here to implore you to not allow emissions to be going up in an era of declining emissions, and given what the Air District’s job is,” said Jed Holtzman of 350 Bay Area. “Preventing an increase is part of reducing. If you know you’re going the wrong way, then arguing about how fast you’re going, or whether you know everything you could about your tires, is not a smart move.”

Greg Karras also expressed frustration with BAAQMD staff and noted in an interview that their proposals are disconnected from the refinery tar sands push. “We can cap refinery emissions immediately to prevent a tar sands invasion from increasing them irreversibly and then take the first step toward deeper emission cuts later by setting an interim goal for significant partial cuts of 20 percent,” he says.

The danger in addressing the so-called “tar sands invasion,” Karras adds, is that “the oil industry’s push to rebuild for even dirtier tar sands oil could be locked into place for another generation if we fail to act now.”

One episode that validates the BAAQMD’s authority to impose the cap, proponents say, took place in 2014. California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined Richmond residents and environmental organizations in sharply criticizing plans for an expansion of Chevron’s Richmond refinery. Harris supported a greenhouse gas cap as a condition of the project’s approval.

* * *

One of the main bulwarks against the emissions cap so far has been none other than the California Air Resources Board (CARB): the agency that implements California’s climate change programs. In a letter to the BAAQMD last September, executive officer Richard Corey flatly stated that “a local cap on Bay Area refinery emissions will have no effect on overall GHG emissions… Any emissions reductions from a Bay Area refinery cap would likely be compensated by emissions increases (also called emissions leakage) in other parts of the state. This emissions leakage would likely be associated with shifts in business activity outside the Bay Area.”

Corey’s reasoning is tied to a state-level greenhouse gas reduction programs that apply to stationary pollution sources like refineries and power plants: “Cap-and-Trade.” The program caps overall carbon emissions from these entities, with yearly reductions in allowable levels of pollution. From 2015 to 2020, for example, the cap is dropping by three percent per year.

But the program is aimed at providing maximum flexibility to industry, so it allows them to buy credits or offsets from carbon-saving projects elsewhere in the U.S., or in Quebec, or to sell credits themselves if they've reduced their own emissions.

Environmental-justice advocates have criticized the program for allowing polluters to buy their way out of reducing emissions at the source — and thereby allowing them to continue burdening communities with pollution. Chevron is a case in point. The company was California’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2013, according to CARB data. But it was also the largest purchaser of offsets under the cap-and-trade program in its inaugural two years between 2013 and 2014, according to a recent study by the Oakland-based California Environmental Justice Alliance.

The company used forests in Maine, Michigan, South Carolina, Willits, CA, and Humboldt County and an Arkansas-based project that destroys ozone-depleting substances to offset its emissions, which mainly emanate from Richmond, El Segundo, and Kern County. If the facility were to increase emissions through full-tilt tar sands processing, it could trade for additional credits. Another state program, the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, also creates what is known as a “soft incentive” to reduce at-source refinery emissions but does not require it.

The Bay Area emissions cap, on the other hand, would have no trading component.

While some sources say that CARB may be reconsidering its stance, the oil industry’s chief regional lobbying group, Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), has seized on the agency's current position. In statement via e-mail, WSPA president Reheis Boyd noted that “WSPA strongly encourages the District to take into account the California Air Resources Board’s concerns. CARB has clearly stated that a local cap will: (1) not reduce statewide GHG emissions; (2) reduce cap-and-trade efficiencies; and (3) undermine statewide efforts to reduce GHGs.”

Environmentalists describe these arguments as right-wing and defeatist. “Cap and Trade is being used as a barrier to creating a simple limit on refinery pollution,” Greg Karras says. “Tell me if their argument doesn’t sound a lot like what the Republicans are saying about why we shouldn’t have a climate policy, which typically goes something like, ‘China will just pollute more anyway, so we might as well get the economic benefits.’”

The NRDC's Axelrod agrees. Though his organization supports California's cap-and-trade program, he called the argument that emissions’ “leakage” would result from a Bay Area refinery emissions cap “far-fetched.”

“Fundamentally, it sounds like the same argument that happened with Keystone XL, which we labeled the Inevitability Argument,” he says. “The oil industry’s line was that if you reject Keystone XL, the amount of tar sands it would have facilitated would inevitably happen anyway. But that obviously hasn't been the case.”

Meanwhile, cap proponents note that any increases in Bay Area refinery production are likely to be for export. According to the California Board of Equalization, gasoline consumption in the state has declined since 2005-06.

One of the BAAQMD’s most influential directors is Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, a fourth-term Democrat who represents the county’s western most urban area, including Richmond. He serves as the Bay Area representative on the California Air Resources Board, which implements the state’s climate change and air pollution reduction policies, a post he received from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Following the signing of the Paris climate change pact in December, whereby 195 countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, BAAQMD voted to convene a regional climate change summit this October. It will explore strategies for achieving a regional 80 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

Gioia is taking a wait-and-see approach on Refinery Rule 12-16. “The main point is that we need to keep the pressure on to keep reducing criteria pollutants, toxic pollutants, and greenhouse gases,” he says. “Whatever the board ends up adopting will be the most far-reaching regulation at a local air district of greenhouse gas emissions, and I think that's an important acknowledgment.”

San Francisco County Supervisor John Avelos is among the BAAQMD directors who unambiguously support the emissions cap. Los Altos City Councilmember Jan Pepper has not publicly commited to voting for the cap, but said in an interview that she is motivated to prevent the tar sands from coming to the Bay Area. A version of the same Bay Area Refinery Workers letter sent to Shirlee Zane’s constituents also landed in mailboxes in Pepper’s district.

The letter also went to BAAQMD directors’ districts in Alameda and Contra Costa County districts. Steelworkers Union Local 5 organizer Mike Smith said his office had received numerous calls about the letter and that he was also upset by it. He noted the union’s continued support for stronger refinery regulations.

“We’re the first people affected by the emissions, whether they're from catastrophic failures or longer-term emissions,” he says. “Our members are a part of these communities, and we want to have the cleanest and safest workplaces possible.”

Sonoma County’s other BAAQMD representative, Petaluma City Councilmember Teresa Barrett, is also in wait-and-see mode. “I want to make sure that what we’re doing is scientifically verifiable and really will get us to the outcome that we’re looking for.”

Napa County’s lone BAAQMD delegate, 2nd District Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht, takes a similar position and emphasized the difficulty in navigating a regulatory process with the knowledge that the Air Board is likely to be sued no matter what it does, and called for “both sides” to temper their criticism of the agency's work.

The Committee For Industrial Safety’s most recent disclosure statement with the California Secretary of State lists Walt Gill, government affairs manager at Chevron, as the organization’s president; Chevron attorney James Sutton is listed as treasurer. Neither Gill nor Sutton responded to requests for comment. Gill, however, was among those who signed in as an attendee at the recent BAAQMD meeting.

Phillips 66 spokesperson Aimee Lohr confirmed that the Bay Area Refinery Workers letter came from the “Committee for Industrial Safety, sponsored by energy companies.”

* * *

The oil industry has been California’s biggest spender on lobbying and electoral campaigns for years, with much of their effort aimed at climate change legislation, California Secretary of State data reveals. California mandates GHG emissions reduction by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Last year, the state moved beyond that goal with S.B. 350, which requires that 50 percent of electricity generation to be from renewable sources, and that energy efficiency of buildings double, both by 2030.

The industry spent more than $22 million lobbying California legislators in 2015, according to data on the California Secretary of State website. The effort paid off: Moderate Democrats stripped a provision from SB 350 that would have required a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by California’s cars and trucks by 2030.

Gioia says he has never seen anything quite like the industry's recent Bay Area Refinery Workers mailer. At the June 1 BAAQMD meeting, he noted that it has become well-known in Sacramento that the oil industry will attempt to pass legislation to limit the authority of local air districts if Refinery Rule 12-16 goes forward.

Proponents say that a regional refinery emissions cap will enable the BAAQMD to fulfill an urgent role in the struggle to starve the tar sands beast, and to stand up to the power of the oil industry. In that way, the agency would fill a regulatory gap not addressed by state climate programs, such as Cap-and-Trade and the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard.

But proponents say the cap is also a pragmatic approach to the tar-sands invasion the Bay Area faces. The full BAAQMD board of directors will hear a staff presentation on Refinery Rule 12-16 at a San Francisco meeting on June 15. Expect it to be well-attended.

“Oil refining is the largest industrial emitter of GHG and PM in the Bay Area,” reads a recent letter from 13 regional community groups who are tracking the tar sands invasion, “and yet refineries here have no facility-wide limits on these emissions, though other industries do. Keeping emissions from increasing would not require any change in current operations of any refinery.”

(This story originally appeared in the North Bay Bohemian.)

* * *


* * *


Epiphany Artists is proud to present the 23rd annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, which takes place June 17-19 at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds located in Boonville, California. This three-day music and camping extravaganza features some of the greatest names in world and reggae music as well as an extensive children's program, fire dancers, a daily parade, stilters, hooping and music workshops. The festival village includes two music stages, a "Jamaican-style" late-night dancehall, a kids zone, international foods, arts & crafts and morning movement with Solstice Yoga. 

This year's lineup is now complete and single day tickets are now available as are three-day festival tickets and camping passes. The organizers have once again developed an impressive lineup of performers, many of which signify the true essence of cultural preservation, performing on stages around the globe as ambassadors for their craft.

The festivities kick off on Friday evening with the SNWMF debut of New Kingston on the Valley Stage, followed by California's own Fortunate Youth. Next up will be Lee 'Scratch' Perry, the octogenarian who will be returning to SNWMF for the first time in 15 years. Reggae legend Don Carlos will close out the Valley Stage music to be followed by some amazing fire dancers.

The Village stage will be thumping all night long with the Boonville debuts of Tuff Like Iron and Alaine. No-Maddz gave a very impressive performance at SNWMF last year and they will be returning to Anderson Valley yet again for 2016. The revolutionary Pablo Moses will bring down the curtain on the Village Stage Friday night. Meanwhile, things will be jamming in the Dancehall from 8:00pm until the wee hours of the morning, with Comanche High Power laying down some serious grooves for your listening pleasure. He will be followed by Jah Warrior Shelter Hi Fi along with Special Guests. Anderson Valley will be 'feeling the bass' with the return of the mighty Jah Shaka, who will close out Friday night's music. 

The Valley Stage has always featured roots reggae on Saturday, and this year's roster will be a blockbuster. No-Maddz and Etana will get the day rocking, to be followed by the return of Kabaka Pyramid backed by the Bebble Rockers Band. Tanya Stephens will then bless the people of Boonville for the very first time prior to Richie Spice taking to the stage. Israel Vibration will get Saturday night started, before 'The Voice of Jamaica' - Beres Hammond makes his only California appearance this year at our 23rd annual summer solstice gathering. Saturday night's capper will be the one and only Toots and The Maytals, who will be making thier very first festival appearance since Toots was injured nearly three years ago. 

Saturday's Village Stage will get started in the morning with Piracy Conspiracy out of San Diego, followed by the US debut of Italy's own Mellow Mood. Asheba will perform in the afternoon, followed by World Music in the evening from the Bay Area's Candelaria. Koradub, who hail from Chile, will be up next followed by the newly reborn Zulu Spear band. And the party band extraordinaire – Afrolicious will keep things hot on the Village Stage on Saturday night. More musical fire will be presented in the Dancehall from 8:00-2:30am as Comanche High Power, Ras Kush and Rorystonelove Black Dub lay down some wicked tracks all night long. 

Sunday morning's musical offerings on the Village Stage include the debuts of Lee Tafari and one of Jamaica's up-and-coming roots bands - EarthKry. They will be followed by some great dancing music courtesy of Lost Coast Marimbas, before Italian musical selector Paolo Baldini DubFiles takes to the stage. Next up will be Sara Lugo, who hails from Germany. Latin ska is in popular demand, and festival goers will get their fair share of it when The Delirians close down the music under the redwoods. 

Sunday on the Valley Stage will truly be an 'international worldwide affair,' taking you from Indonesia's Ras Muhamad to Italy's Mellow Mood. From there, you'll journey to the barrios of Mexico for the Grammy Award winning sounds of La Santa Cecilia, before heading down to Brazil to hear the eloquent voice of Céu. Then it's up to Florida for the 'bad boys of reggae' - Inner Circle, before heading to Canada for the SNWMF return of the sweet sounds of Leroy Sibbles. The Ivory Coast will be the final leg of this musical sojourn, as Alpha Blondy and Solar System close out the musical offerings for 2016. 

With 2 stages along with a "Jamaican-style" Late-Night Dancehall, SNWMF is a great way to kick off your summer. Our festival is very "family-friendly" because we offer an extensive array of children's activities. Draped with beautiful streaming colors and exotic aromas, the international festival village is an attractive marketplace of food and craft booths. Through the collective efforts of the staff, volunteers, artists, vendors and ticket buyers, each year the fairgrounds are transformed into a magical place filled with love, smiles and plenty of good vibes.

For camping and ticket info go to:


* * *


Mendocino Show featuring the work of 16 Local Craftspersons

For the past 18 years the Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers has presented an annual exhibition of contemporary wood design and craftsmanship. The sixteen artisans included within the show explore the use and unique character of wood from diverse points of view. The exhibition will include furniture, turned objects, carving and sculptures in wood. From functional to fanciful the work in this years annual show will intrigue and inspire.

The first floor at Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino will present recently completed work by each of the sixteen participants: Lee Baker, Hans Bruhner, Michael Burns, Michael Carroll, Les Cizek, Tom Dull, Krystine Graziano, Henry Hewitt, Max Kaplan, Sarah Marriage, Kerry Marshall, Tobyn McCormick, Paul Reiber, Odis Schmidt, Greg Smith and Josh Smith.

The second floor will once again present a unique opportunity for all who appreciate fine woodworking, a month long silent auction. Here is your opportunity to bid on handmade, one-of-a-kind objects, at significantly reduced prices. It is our plan to move our work into your home so we can create more new work.

Dates: July 8-31, 2016. Open daily 10AM to 5 PM

Artists' Reception: July 9, 2016 5 pm – 8 pm

Where: Odd Fellows Hall

Kasten and Ukiah Street, Mendocino, CA

Founded in 1997, Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers is dedicated to the preservation and evolution of the fine art of furniture. They specialize in custom-designed, one-of-a-kind pieces in both traditional and contemporary styles. Using the finest materials and proven hand techniques they provide customers with furniture designs that enhance their home's interiors. Contact information for individual craftspersons at


  1. LouisBedrock June 9, 2016

    Writing for money: Valeria’s lament:

    We Give Away Texts: Information Here.
    (Valeria Luiselli
    Translated by Louis S. Bedrock)

    I believe it was Samuel Butler who said that a bureaucracy is a system of holes connected by a thread. If the most appropriate metaphor for the Internet is “the network”, might it not be because even the most distant fibers of this net are actually linked by contiguity? A net consists of more holes than nodes and links—and the Internet is undoubtedly a net because of its holes. Nowhere is this more certain than in the relationship between literary output and the medium of any virtual format. When a text is released to the Internet it will probably slip among the fibers like a small fish in order to remain on board.

    Perhaps this is very reason why writing on line is more and more conceived as printed material that fills a container: A container that has the peculiar characteristic of not having a bottom. Because the paradox of the virtual net is that the more links that form it, the more holes it produces and not vice versa. And that pattern is reproduced in our brains: I’m sure that some day the profound neuronal damage that millions of us are doing to ourselves by strolling along the fibers of the net like cold weather tightrope walkers will be demonstrated. I mourn the loss of my pre-Internet brain. I sense potholes and gaps in my thinking: the thought process as a permanent coitus interruptus.

    But I also mourn the loss of my ability to able to earn a living by my trade. I couldn’t keep count of the quantity of e-mails that reach me requesting my collaboration with a piece for some virtual site. These e-mails always end with more or less the same formula: “Unfortunately, we are not able to offer any compensation for your collaboration. Sincerely, the editor.”

    The other day I tried my luck with a similar sentence: but the cab driver wouldn’t let me in his taxi, the baker wouldn’t give me a roll, and the bartender wouldn’t pour me a beer.

    • Bruce McEwen June 9, 2016

      Oui! Cabarone, och!

      Stick a pin in yer butt, buddy — it’s really not that hard to make money as a writer — as I’ve learned to my amazing profit –but what does it a profit a prophet to prophesy?– Order my new How To Do IT book replete with instructions on how I went from a penniless vagabond to the most highly payed small-town newsweekly reporter in the entire country, if not the whole round world.

      You must read this book.

      I will tell you, in a few cursory terms precisely what you must do to coin words… if you’ll suffer me a mild pun …

      So, do.

      Buy my new book on how to write your way to profit, eminence and, to be sure, a fine bronze bust of your nettled brow, curled lip and flaring nostril, at your height of impudence, M’ Lord.

      • LouisBedrock June 10, 2016

        I’d like to order two copies: one for Ms. Luiselli who works at nearby Columbia University and one for myself.

        Do you inscribe and autograph copies bought directly from you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *