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Shell: We are serious about meeting climate challenges

Martinez News-Gazette

Staff Reporter
January 2, 2010

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the addition of petroleum refineries to its list of industries to be targeted for future increased regulations. The EPA is looking to install more stringent “financial assurance requirements” on oil companies, chemical manufacturers and electric power generators when it comes to environmental cleansing.

“Financial assurance requirements help ensure that owners and operators of facilities are able to pay for cleanup of environmental releases and help reduce the number of sites that need to be cleaned up by federal taxpayers through the Superfund program,” said EPA spokesperson Latisha Petteway, referring to the 1980 federal law authorizing the government to clean up deserted industrial sites containing hazardous waste.

Steve Lesher, spokesperson for the Martinez Shell refinery, said this week’s EPA announcement wouldn’t immediately affect the local facility.

“It is not clear to us yet how this requirement would impact Shell Martinez as we are already covered by a number of existing financial assurance requirements.  We will have to see if EPA is requiring anything new and different from what we already provide to the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Dept. of Fish and Game, Regional Water Board and Contra Costa County in this regard,” said Lesher Wednesday afternoon. “Each of these agencies require the company to demonstrate that it has the assets to cover any cleanup that would need to take place were the facility to move, shut down, etc., and we are able to satisfy the requirement.”

He added that there are no Superfund sites currently associated with the Martinez facility.

While the EPA announcement related to ground and site-specific pollution, in mid-December, the Gazette reported that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently released data indicating the Martinez Shell petroleum refinery was the state’s second worst polluter of greenhouse gases — particularly carbon dioxide — in 2008. According to the agency, a subdivision of California Environmental Protection Agency, last year the facility discharged 4.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and other gases into the atmosphere, contributing to the entrapment of solar radiation and warming of the planet’s surface.

Addressing the ARB’s data, Lesher confirmed that Shell employs a team of environmental experts working full-time on figuring out ways to reduce the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“In addition to meeting the energy challenge, we need to meet the climate challenge…this is something we are very serious about,” said Lesher. “We are certainly not where we want to be, but we know where we want to go, and we have some of our best minds working on solutions.”

Lesher stated that in addition to the oil company’s “broad alternative energy portfolio,” Shell received certification for its environmental systems in 2004 from the International Standards Organization, an international non-governmental organization (NGP) based in Switzerland.

“The bottom line is that we all share the same goals,” Lesher said. “Shell is committed to investing in the equipment, research and processes to ensure continuous improvement in this important area. Tackling greenhouse gases is another challenge along our journey of continuous improvement. I’m confidant we can get there.”

Shell’s alternative energy strategy and its sustainability report can be viewed at

SOURCE ARTICLE and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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