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Smartest Environmentalist 

Greg Karras

Big Oil and Gas spend massive amounts of money each year on lobbying and public relations campaigns, downplaying the dangers of fracking, extracting dirty tar sands oil, and moving heavy crude by rail. Chevron has even created its own "news" website in Richmond to disseminate corporate-friendly information. As a result, it can be very difficult at times for residents to separate fact from fiction. That's where Greg Karras comes in. As chief scientist for Communities for a Better Environment, Karras routinely uncovers evidence of corporate lies, especially when it comes to the East Bay's biggest polluters: oil refineries. For example, earlier this year, Karras found compelling evidence that the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo plans to switch to refining very heavy crude, including dirty tar sands oil — despite the company's assurances that it would not. Karras also has been keeping close tabs on Chevron's proposed Richmond refinery "modernization" project, and has discovered that the project would fail to replace some old, worn-out equipment that is at high risk of corrosion from the higher-sulfur raw materials that the oil giant plans to use. It was sulfur-corroded pipes that caused the giant explosion at the Richmond refinery in 2012, sending 15,000 East Bay residents to the hospital.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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