Permitting existing and new infrastructure to support existing refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area can be arduous and is typically faced with numerous environmental and regulatory challenges. In particular, environmental impact assessments under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) are required for lease renewals and use permits for proposed marine oil terminals (MOTs) serving these refineries – additional to permitting requirements under a host of other federal, state and local authorities. Significant community involvement has also been inherent to these projects as part of the permitting processes.
Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company, LLC (Tesoro) applied to the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) for new 30-year leases of sovereign lands to allow Tesoro to continue operations at both its Amorco and Avon MOTs, each of which serve their Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez, California. The Amorco and Avon terminals primarily operate as import and export facilities, respectively, transferring petroleum products between the refinery and tanker vessels. To consider authorization for a new 30-year lease, the CSLC was required to document the current and planned conditions at each terminal, including compliance with the Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS), and significant associated renovations at the Avon Terminal.
TRC was separately engaged by the CSLC to conduct comprehensive environmental evaluations under CEQA related to Tesoro’s application for lease renewals to continue operations at the Amorco and Avon Terminals. Following circulation of draft environmental impact reports (EIRs) for public comment and associated revisions, final EIRs for the Amorco and Avon MOTs were published in February 2014 (Amorco) and January 2015 (Avon) and subsequently approved by the CSLC.
Key environmental resources evaluated for these projects include water quality, marine transportation and terminal safety, biological resources, land use, visual resources, exposure to hazardous materials as a result of the MOTEMS renovations and operations, and risk of accidents associated with the proposed project.
TRC has been able to navigate the often competing stakeholder interests to satisfy the regulatory requirements on behalf of the respective agencies and applicants. This dedication to the environmental review fundamentally serves all parties in delivering responsible and legally sound environmental reviews, thereby enabling permits to be appropriately considered by the applicable decision-making authorities.
The environmental impact assessments completed by TRC for CSLC and Tesoro are critical to the CSLC lease renewals, which, in turn, would allow continued operations at the Tesoro MOTs under improved and updated conditions per MOTEMS. By extension, these renewals facilitate the operation and viability of Tesoro’s Golden Eagle Refinery.