Gayle’s prepared remarks for the California State Lands Commission meeting, August 17

Members of the California State Lands Commission,

I am Gayle McLaughlin. I am the former Mayor of Richmond, California. I am here to support the residents of San Pedro and neighboring Los Angeles areas who are asking the Commission for justice and protection from the Rancho Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) 25 million gallon butane storage facility, at 2011 North Gaffey Street, San Pedro, California.

I join the residents in asking that the LPG facilities be moved away to an isolated area to make their neighborhoods safe. The facility is on the Palos Verdes earthquake fault zone. It is vulnerable to drone attacks and tsunamis, and can trigger a catastrophe causing thousands of deaths.

A revocable permit for Rancho LPG Holdings, LLC, for use of an underground pipeline and rail in the Port of Los Angeles, a public land, is in your jurisdiction. You have the obligation to protect the public. There is an enormous risk associated with this use of our public land in the port of Los Angeles, and there is very little benefit to the people. It is time to rectify this wrong. The commission must show clearly that it stands for the health and safety of the people of California.    

I speak from experience. I was serving as mayor of Richmond, California when, on August 6, 2012, the local Chevron refinery exploded and burned for many hours, sending 15,000 residents of our city to area hospitals. Nineteen Chevron refinery workers barely escaped with their lives.

Years before the fire, Chevron ignored safety demands from the people and the city government of Richmond. Chevron gave the same type of empty reassurances that the good people of San Pedro continue to receive from Rancho LPG: “It’s all fine and safe.”  After the refinery explosion, Chevron pleaded no contest to criminal neglect, and last month it was mandated to initiate repairs for $25 million, mostly to replace rotten pipes they had refused to fix until now.

I’m also here as a former city official who knows all too well that corporations put profits before people. Both Chevron and Rancho LPG have been gambling with the safety and the well-being of our communities, and too often the regulatory agencies have allowed them to gamble and profit at our expense.

California is not the 100% renewable energy state we must become, and for the time being fossil fuel industries will continue to exist. However, both oil refineries and LPG storage facilities must be located in isolated areas of the state where they do not pose immediate dangers to residents.

I’m here to tell you what you already know: that unless forced by the people’s agencies, corporations will do the barest minimum to cover appearances. They will continue to put families at risk, turning a deaf ear to the voices of safety experts, not even hearing the alarms of their own engineers and workers. That happened in Richmond.

I’m here to say to the Lands Commission that California is watching what you do, and that California is expecting you to do much better than other regulatory agencies who have failed the people of San Pedro and the Los Angeles area.

Removing the Rancho LPG facility from San Pedro will reduce the risk to the entire Los Angeles Harbor area; relocating the facility will provide the community with a higher level of safety as California advances away from fossil fuels and towards our 100% renewable energy future.

Don’t wait until San Pedro explodes to move the LPG tanks.

A Better California is Possible!

Thank you

Gayle McLaughlin

Former Mayor and Councilmember of Richmond California