The mayors of Richmond and Benicia, home to the Chevron and Valero refineries, say a bill that could triple penalties for oil companies that violate air quality laws needs to be tougher.
Last month, state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation that would raise penalties local air districts can levy against refinery operators when they violate emissions rules.
Currently, air regulators can slap oil companies with fines up to $10,000 a day for the most common infractions -- essentially any time a refinery releases pollutants that violate existing state or regional air-quality standards or operating permits.
Dodd's bill would increase those penalties to as much as $30,000 a day. For less common violations, including those found to be due to negligence or those due to "willful and intentional" acts by refinery operators, penalties range as high as $250,000 a day.
Dodd has said the release of more than 80,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide from Valero's Benicia refinery last May is one of the main reasons he proposed the the bill.