Assemblyman says Hayward Power Plant Cited for Polluting Air is ‘Quite Healthy’

Hayward’s Russell City Energy Center.

ASSEMBLY | 20TH ASSEMBLY FORUM | Hayward residents are in the mood to question whether Calpine’s Russell City Energy Center was such a good idea, after all. At a candidate’s forum for 20th Assembly District race, the issue dominated the nearly hour-long discussion. Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s consistent support of the plant going back to his days on the Hayward City Council gave his two opponents a sizable point of attack.

Both the Republican, first time candidate Jaime Patiño and Luis Reynoso, an elected member of the Hayward school board, who left the party this year, hammered away at Quirk for his support of Calpine’s natural gas-fired power plant recently constructed on the Hayward shoreline.

Last month, staff from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District filed a complaint with the state asserting the plant, which opened last October, was emitting 10 times the allowed amount of water particulate into the air. The plant, which can be seen lighting up the night sky when traveling east on the San Mateo Bridge, has long been a flash point for Hayward residents, in addition to students and administration at nearby Chabot College, who say the plant will add pollution to the area.

Bill Quirk, Luis Reynoso, Jaime Patiño

Quirk, however, called the plant “healthy” during the candidate’s forum Friday night in Hayward and said there is no reason to shut it down. “The plant—it’s quite healthy,” said Quirk. “That plant is very necessary. It is a modern plant.” Quirk told the audience, in fact, he had met with Calpine officials earlier in the day Friday and the energy company said the air quality issues would be fixed “within a day or two.”

“I can say this because I haven’t taken a dime [from Calpine],” said Patiño, who described the area as filthy near the power plant along Depot Road. “If it’s ugly to be on your car, you can’t tell me its healthy to be in your lungs,” Patiño shot back. Since 2012, Quirk has received $14,400 in contributions from Calpine and its executives.

The outspoken Reynoso then joined the fray. “This thing is a smokestack,” he said of the power plant. “What was going through the minds of this City Council?” Reynoso turned to his opponents and said, “Mr. Quirk, bad choice on promoting that plant.” Quirk rose and countered drolly, “Well, they have perhaps found a theme.”

“This is interesting. We have two Republicans who I’m pretty sure will oppose, as all Republican do, all the bills we have for clean energy, for renewable energy,” said Quirk. Reynoso, though, corrected him, “I’m not a Republican.” Said Quirk, “Well, you were the last election.” Reynoso recently switched to No Party Preference, saying both parties have left him out in the cold ideologically.

The discussion soon switched to fracking. Quirk described co-authoring legislation last year he believes is “so strict we’ll never have fracking in this state” and vowed to protect the ground water and clean air. “Well, there he goes again,” said Patiño. “He wants clean air, but we got Calpine.” Patiño, though, was the only candidate who advocated for fracking’s potential for creating jobs and new streams of tax revenue. “He never met a tax he didn’t like,” Patiño said of Quirk. “He can the tax the heck out of it. You know I won’t tell you one thing here and then Calpine something else.”

Reynoso said he opposes fracking. “I’m not going to do anything to put the water in danger,” he said. “If you allow fracking , there will be another Calpine. If you doubt me, go to Mexico and look at their water.”

Quirk, believes, the real crisis in the state is the potential rise of moderate Democrats in the State Legislature through the top-two primary system. He highlighted the issue in both his opening and closing remarks. “We are getting more and more so-called New Democrats, moderate Democrats, and it’s getting very difficult now to get some very good legislation passed.” For instance, he said, progressive legislation last year to significantly raise fines against oil companies like Chevron in Richmond following a fire in 2012 and limits on the number of bullets in a semi-automatic magazine were defeated by moderates, said Quirk.

Similarly, Quirk said his biggest accomplishment during his first year in the Assembly was being named a member of the public safety committee. Here, said Quirk, he was able to help block from heading to the Assembly floor, Republican-led “lock ‘em up and throw away the key bills,” he says do not work. Among public safety committee members, said Quirk, “I’m considered the rock of that group.”

Categories: 2014 Election, AD20, Assembly, BAAQMD, Bill Quirk, Calpine, campaign finance, candidate forum, fracking, Hayward, Jaime Patino, Luis Reynoso, moderates, Republicans, Russell City Energy Center

22 replies

  1. Quirk has a point. Natural gas is a lot cleaner than coal. It's up to BAAQMD to make sure they adhere to regulations. At least it appears he is opposed to fracking.


  2. The challengers are attacking Calpine because there's nothing to lose, as they've already given money to the incumbent.

    Calpine gave money to the incumbent because he's the only credible candidate.

    Next story, please?


  3. Whatever was going through the Hayward City Council's minds back then when they approved the power plant is still there. That's what caused them to vote for The Loop & impose on the lowest paid City Workers. Since they are the second highest paid council in the Bay Area, their poor decisions mean we aren't getting what we are paying for. Vote them out in June!


  4. @8:30am It was too easy to buy Quirk and the city council along wit the Library commission… what was going through the mind of those people that built the loop and Calpine? Money from special interests as they fund the easiest people to bribe.

    We need people that do not do favors for special interest. Good bye Quirk ..the weirdo. We need progressive people.


  5. I don't understand Quirk's logic – he is in support of RC which is a natural gas fired power plant, but Quirk is against fracking which is the “modern” way of extracting natural gas that feeds RC. How can he have it both ways?

    This plant is a polluter at the source for Hayward resident who have to breath near it and a polluter at the source of extracting natural gas. Was the $10 million bribe and $14,000 in campaign contributions worth it?


  6. Natural gas is far cleaner than coal and you don't have to frack to get it. It is up to the Bay Area Air Quality Control District to do their job and make sure it is operating correctly. We haven't got to the point yet where sun and wind power will cover all our needs. In the meantime I hope everyone will put solar on their own roofs and conserve as much as possible.


  7. Quirk: if you did say “quite healthy” then you are quite a stupid dumb ass. Fucking idiot!


  8. Wasn't Hayward promised a new library from Calpine if the power plant was built ?


  9. @3:51 – the National Petroleum Council estimates that 70% of natural gas production is coming from fracking. So you live in a dream world if you think that the gas being extracted is coming from another source – but hey – what a great idea to have Calpine pledge to buy natural gas from non-fracking sources!

    It is Calpine who is responsible to do their job of complying with the permit, and not put the community's health at risk by spewing filth into the air at 10 times what was permitted. How about some corporate responsibility?


  10. I hope the poster above has solar on their roof, because if they don't they are part of the problem!


  11. Fortunately, I do have solar and the resources to pay for it. But many individuals do not have the choice and rely on our representatives to enact public policies that support renewable resources and not actively pursue and proudly support polluters. Quirk was and continues to be the mouthpiece of RC. If that's the type of representative the people want then so be it. I would hope progressive democrats and those who are environmentally conscious demand more.


  12. Does anyone know if Calpine actually fixed the problem? I cannot understand how an intelligent person can say the plant is healthy if it is way over its limit of pollution. And yes, they did give Hayward money toward a new library but not enough and now the city wants to raise our sales taxes (measure C) to make up the difference. Yet no one seems concerned about the ability of Hayward citizens to keep spending and no exemption is allowed for those who cannot afford it. Vote No of C.


  13. Quirk is high on RC power plant feces particulates. Go quirk go…you union whore and corporate whore


  14. What is sad is that Quirk has the money and resources to keep his job in the Assembly. The cost for the average citizen to attempt a run for his seat is so prohibitive that nobody can raise the money necessary to put on a competitive campaign against him. Money and the donors that provide it buys the power!


  15. 2:15 you have to get your energy from somewhere and right now solar and wind are not an option for most of us. As people have said, natural gas is cleaner than coal, but it's up to BAAQMD to enforce the air pollution rules for the plant. In the meantime write your state and congressional representatives to get more tax subsidies and credits for wind and solar. In the meantime we need the energy. Also, write or call BAAQMD for enforcement.


  16. Quirk gets money from Calpine and Unions..what is wrong with that? That is expected nowadays to win elections it just means that unions and corporations like him.


  17. it just means that some politicians are just whores. I am more interested why unions and Calpine wont give money to some candidates. Perhaps those candidates do not return favors and cannot be bought like Quirk.

    Quirk = Unions and Calpine

    I will not vote for Quirk


  18. Most of the rest of us will vote for Quirk just like we did last time. You need to get energy from somewhere and there isn't enough wind and solar power yet. Bill Quirk will win very easily.


  19. Is not the getting energy from anywhere that bothers me, but the lying of Bill Quirk. I am not voting for him either. Quirk and Calpine money such a good mix


  20. I'll be voting for Quirk because there is nobody meaningful running against him. Reynoso screwed up our schools and Ratino is a conservative idiot.


  21. Your all wasti g your ti.e its time to erase these mutha fuckers



  1. Report: Quirk’s authored ‘PG&E bailout bill’ while son works for the utility

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