When Steve Early moved to Richmond in 2012, he saw a city trying to break free from its big oil roots and reinvent itself. He also saw from his backyard an oil explosion that sent 15,000 to the hospital because of toxic smoke. Home to a massive Chevron oil refinery since 1902 — Standard Oil back then — the working-class Bay Area city has a long history of pollution and poverty. But, as Early chronicles in his new book “Refinery Town,” for the past fifteen years, the Richmond community has tried to reinvent itself with a push for reform and progressive policies, electing a Green Party mayor, approving rent control measures and, most recently, passing a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump. Steve Early joins us in-studio to discuss Richmond’s history, its recent efforts to redefine itself and its rocky relationship with its biggest employer, Chevron.
Steve Early on Richmond's Political Transformation
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A view of a Chevron refinery on March 3, 2015 in Richmond, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Steve Early, labor activist, lawyer and author, "Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money and the Remaking of an American City"