In the wake of plans by Marathon Petroleum Co. to "indefinitely idle" its refinery in unincorporated Contra Costa County and convert the site to a terminal facility, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) called for accelerating a shift to renewable and sustainable energy in Contra Costa County.
The company is also putting a New Mexico refinery on indefinite hold and announced that most jobs would be lost at the two sites, with phased layoffs starting in October.
"This move is a big loss for our workforce and potentially the economy," De Saulnier said in a statement Sunday. "That is why, before the pandemic hit and had a drastic impact on energy production, I started convening labor unions, environmental groups, and local governments to talk about how we prepare for a shift to sustainable energy and renewables in Contra Costa."
The refinery employs about 740 people and can process 161,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery produces gasoline, diesel fuel, distillates, petroleum coke, propane, heavy fuel oil and refinery-grade propylene.
"The transition needs to be as successful as possible for everyone and we cannot leave workers behind -- they need to be guaranteed meaningful and comparable work," DeSaulnier said. "I will continue to bring together stakeholders to support workers, our community, and the environment and improve Contra Costa's energy assets."
In announcing its plans for the refinery, Marathon said it is "evaluating the strategic repositioning of Martinez to a renewable diesel facility, which aligns with California's Low Carbon Fuel Standards objectives and MPC's greenhouse gas reduction targets."
The refinery opened in 1913 as the Avon Refinery, named for the unincorporated Contra Costa County area north of Concord and east of Martinez. Since then, operators have included Phillips, Tosco, Ultramar Golden Eagle and Tesoro. Marathon bought the refinery in 2018.