Hermosa Beach City Council Candidate Positions on MHF

Recently TRAA sent a brief questionnaire to the candidates in the Hermosa Beach City Council election being held on May 11. The three questions asked of each candidate were:

  1. Are you in favor of a ban on HF/MHF?
  2. What have you done to effect a ban in the past?
  3. What do you plan to do in the future?

It’s still early and we’ve heard from two candidates so far. We will let you know if other candidates respond to our questionnaire.

Response from Dean Francois:

  1. I am in favor of a ban on HF/MHF.
  2. I have been a long time supporter of banning this product statewide.  I have testified at many public agencies, and numerous times at the Torrance city council meetings for this ban. I have contacted state legislators.   I have been involved in many Sierra club endorsements of elected officials throughout LA county.  I have ensured they are routinely asked about this issue and do not ever recall endorsing any candidate that did not favor the ban.   I spoke at a TRAA press conference in 2016 with various elected officials.   https://www.facebook.com/almuratsuchi/videos/1099340240135526
  3. I will continue to do everything in the capacity of Hermosa Beach City Council to attempt to ban the deadly MHF at the Torrance refinery. I will also urge emergency response teams and personnel to create a better awareness of possible accidents at the Torrance refinery and how it could affect residents of Hermosa Beach.

Response from Randy Balik:

I still have not had a chance to put down a thoughtful reply, but to answer briefly, as I stated below, I am in favor of the elimination of MHF.  I am also somewhat (but not totally) familiar with the technical challenges and capital issues.

MHF is used for a more efficient alkylation process at those two refineries, partly because of the type of crude that comes in.  To eliminate the HF Alky units at those two refineries would pose a problem to our fuel supply in CA because we are essentially a fuel island given the state regulations about how our fuels are made – we can only purchase and consume fuels made in CA and cannot import any from elsewhere.  The HF Alky process is important to gasoline production, and so any reduction in this process would reduce supply.  So any pinch in supply, especially from the Torrance refinery, would be a problem in that regard.  I believe there are some technologies being tested that could potentially replace MHF, but I’m not an expert in that.  I also know that there are other alkylation methods currently in use at other refineries, and I’m not entirely sure why those methods would not work at the two facilities where MHF is being used.  I know that the oil industry talks about prohibitive capital conversion cost at this time, but again, I’m not an expert in that either so I can’t speak to that one way or another.

But going back to the key question at hand, the use of MHF in the alkylation process at these two refineries does carry a public safety risk; that cannot be ignored.  I have not done anything to this point to support either side.  Looking ahead, as a City Councilmember, I’d need to learn what exactly I can do, as I have not looked into his particular issue as part of my campaign.  I’ve been solely focused on some of our more immediate Hermosa Beach issues, and while I know a MHF release with a certain wind condition would be bad for Hermosa (and a lot of other folks no matter what the wind condition), I admittedly have not focused on this particular issue up to this point.  But I thank you for once again bringing it to my attention.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.


Response from Tara McNamara Stabile:

Hi Steve, thank you for the opportunity. You sent this on the day I received my second vaccination, which hit me pretty hard, and I’m pretty behind at work because of my campaign (it takes up a lot of time, it turns out!:). So, I hope you don’t mind if I answer briefly: “I am absolutely in favor of a ban on HF/MHF, and I was shocked to learn this chemical was being used/allowed in a densely populated area with environmental ramifications. My career is in journalism, and I’m running for city council to represent the resident’s point of view to complement the current council who hold expertise in environmental, school, and city services. As Hermosa Beach doesn’t have jurisdiction, I believe we can help out with this issue (as well as the AES plant, an even closer environmental concern for us) by reteaming the creators behind the Keep Hermosa Hermosa campaign (several of whom are City Council members) to create another grassroots marketing campaign in opposition to the plant’s use of HF/MHF. As an Editor-in-Chief of entertainment websites, I know first hand: PR works! And a PR nightmare is even more effective. I stand with you.”

–Tara McNamara Stabile

While Daniel Rittenhouse hasn’t responded to our enquiry, he has spoken in other forums about his concern about MHF and favors its elimination.

We hope this helps you when making your decision in the race.