OREANDA-NEWS. August 24, 2015. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes environmental justice as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”

EPA recognizes communication as a pillar of environmental justice, as it helps to ensure open and honest access to information and resources. At MPC, we recognize that doing business in our communities is a privilege and have embraced community engagement through our core values.

Community engagement is a key part of being a good neighbor to the people who live near our major facilities. We strive to ensure open, two-way communication and take into account the needs of our neighbors when conducting our business.

Open Communication

The most visible of these efforts are the Community Advisory Panels (CAPs) at our refineries. CAPs are made up of representatives from the communities in which our refineries operate – teachers, retirees, business owners, elected officials, activists and others.

At each meeting, a member of the refinery leadership team provides an update to the community members, detailing the facility’s safety and environmental performance and providing updates on any significant projects.

Some CAPs meet monthly, while others meet every other month. Some of the CAPs are dedicated only to the MPC refinery, while others include several industrial facilities in the same meeting, depending on the level of industrialization in the area. For example, multiple industrial facilities attend a joint CAP meeting in Texas City, Texas, including our two MPC refineries there.

We also use other means to ensure open communication with communities, tailored to meet the needs of each location. Our Detroit refinery is a good example, as it is located in a heavily industrialized area with residential neighborhoods nearby. That facility maintains a website to provide status updates to neighbors when refinery alarms are sounded for operational reasons. Neighbors can sign up on the website to receive the status updates via text message, email or automated voice call. The refinery also publishes a newsletter after each CAP meeting and sends it to every address in the two ZIP codes nearest the refinery.

We Respond to Community Concerns

When major projects are planned at MPC refineries, local communities are kept fully informed via public meetings where we seek their feedback. As an example, in advance of an expansion at the Detroit refinery, completed in 2012, MPC held public informational meetings and made numerous commitments to the community to minimize environmental burdens. Just some of these included retrofitting all Detroit city school buses with particulate-matter controls, sweeping public streets to reduce dust from construction traffic, installing ambient air monitors near the refinery and establishing a fully paid scholarship program, among other measures.

In addition, we listened to the communities’ concerns about our expanding footprint toward nearby homes and initiated a program to offer above-market purchase prices to residential homeowners in the neighborhood. About 90 percent of the homeowners opted to participate in this home buyout program.

Similarly, while we evaluated a potential project at our Garyville, La., refinery in 2014, we held two public meetings in the area to describe the project and hear what residents had to say. We held these meetings even though the project was not certain, because we feel it’s important to keep our neighbors informed. Community response was positive. We have since deferred a final decision on the project due to market conditions.