Leno’s arrogant disdain
The Oct. 16, Index-Tribune article, “State senator calls for oil company scrutiny,” reveals both a disturbing lack of understanding of Economics-101 by Sen. Mark Leno, and a shockingly arrogant disdain attributed to him, suggesting that a refinery operator has no incentive to operate safely, and, “… might be purposefully lackadaisical in their facilities maintenance, because they actually stand to make a greater profit when things go wrong ….”
Twenty years ago, California had more than 30 refineries; today there are only 15, and only five surviving in the Bay Area. The Senator ought to avail himself of information available from the California Energy Commission, which has noted that refining in the Golden State is now a tightly balanced proposition, with limited ability to react to disruptions. One of the basics of the law of supply and demand is that, if demand is constant and supply decreases, it leads to higher prices and lower quantity of products being available. Wake up and smell the lack of available hydrocarbons, Senator.
And unlike legislators who can be re-elected whether they are productive or not, refineries only make money when they operate safely and reliably. And the safety of its workers is paramount to any business, whether it’s a refinery operator or someone who owns a company that makes signs, like the Senator. It is very appropriate that those government agencies – including Cal-OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board — who have professionals with the necessary expertise and knowledge, aggressively probe what happened at Chevron’s Richmond refinery and share with the public what they learn. That process has begun. But what is not needed, in the interim, is political grandstanding and overt piling on from someone astride a holier-than-thou high horse.
George M. Marcy