Local air regulators moved Wednesday to require two of California's largest oil refineries to significantly reduce the amount of pollution they spew into the air.
The board that oversees the Bay Area Air Quality Management District voted 19 to 3 to force Chevron's Richmond refinery and the PBF Energy-owned refinery in Martinez to cut down on the particulate matter emitted by a key part of their plants.
The vote came after two separate days of hours-long hearings and threats of a lawsuit from the oil industry, along with pressure from environmentalists, health advocates, refinery workers and labor leaders.
"Whatever we do we're going to face a legal challenge and that's the name of the game," said Nate Miley, a member of the board and an Alameda County supervisor. "I want history to show, at least my vote, that I was on the side of protecting communities, putting the health of people above cost, above money, above refineries."
To satisfy the new rules, the two oil companies would most likely need to buy and install air pollution devices known as wet gas scrubbers at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.