Benicia publishes Notice of Availability & Public Hearings on Valero Crude by Rail

By Roger Straw, Editor, Sunday, August 30, 2015

An official notice appeared in the Benicia Herald today regarding the proposed Valero Crude By Rail project.  The newspaper notice details plans to release and recirculate the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report and to hold hearings on the new report.

The City of Benicia arranged for the Benicia Herald to publish this in its Sunday 8/30/15 edition, but it is not yet available online.  I am providing a scanned version is available here .  (UPDATE: See the City’s  online version here.)

SIGNIFICANT HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TEXT

  • In response to requests made in comments on the DEIR,  the City is issuing this RDEIR to consider potential Impacts that could occur uprail of Roseville, California (i.e., between a crude oil train’s point of origin and the California State border, and from the border to Roseville)  AND  to supplement the DEIR’s evaluation of the potential consequences of upsets or accidents involving crude oil trains based on new information that has become available since the DEIR was published .  In order to allow the public and interested agencies the opportunity to review this information, the City has elected to recirculate  certain portions  of the DEIR.
  • SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT:  …The environmental analysis conducted to date indicates that  there would be a significant and unavoidable impact associated with air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, hazards and hazardous materials, and biological resources .  The impacts associated with all other environmental issues either would be less than significant or would be reduced to a less-than-significant level with the incorporation of mitigation measures.
  • AVAILABILITY AND PUBLIC REVIEW PERIOD:  … 45-day public review period beginning on Monday, August 31, 2015 and ending at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 15, 2015 .
  • Because the proposed revisions to the DEIR affect only portions of the analysis, the City is recirculating only those affected portions for public review. Pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15088.5(f)(2),  anyone wishing to submit comments on the RDEIR should limit those comments to the revised portions shown In Chapter 2 of the RDEIR  (Revisions to the Draft Environmental Impact Report).
  • PUBLIC HEARINGS:  …  The City of Benicia Planning Commission will hold a formal public hearing to receive comments on the RDEIR on September 29, 2015. In anticipation of the number of speakers, additional Planning Commission meetings to receive comments on the RDEIR are scheduled for September 30, October 1, and October 8, 2015 .  These additional meetings will only be held as necessary to hear public comment.  All meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, Benicia City Hall , located at 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510.  Comments on the RDEIR may be provided at the public hearing or may be submitted in writing, no later than 5:00 p.m., on Thursday, October 15, 2015.
  • All written comments should be provided to:

Amy Million, Principal Planner
Community Development Department
250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510
amillion@.benicia.ca.us
(707) 747-1637 (fax)
NOTE: The comment period on the DEIR ended on September 15, 2014 and the City Is in receipt of comments previously submitted so  there is no need to resubmit comments previously provided .

Share...

    SF CHRONICLE EDITORIAL: California should lead way, again, on climate

    Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Editorial

    California should lead way, again, on climate

    San Francisco Chronicle, August 28, 2015 5:53pm

    By any clean-and-green measure, California zooms past the rest of the nation, requiring cleaner fuels, more alternative energy and cars that use less gas. As these policies have taken root, the state economy has strengthened, creating more jobs in a forward-looking marketplace.

    The connection should be clear. California is not only plotting a new energy course, but it’s also prospering. The state law that set emission goals nearly a decade ago hasn’t harmed livelihoods or sent business fleeing.

    This experience should teach Sacramento an important lesson as lawmakers face a decision on doing more about climate change. The state Legislature is on the verge of approving a sweeping measure, SB350, that would cut gas and diesel use by half, boost renewable sources of electricity from a third to 50 percent, and double energy efficiency in buildings, all within 15 years. A second measure, SB32, would widen a state cap-and-trade program that cuts other sources of emissions blamed for rising global temperatures.

    These targets will put California far beyond President Obama’s plans to curb pollution from power plants and boost solar, wind and biofuels in the nation’s mix of energy sources. But SB350, which has passed the state Senate, could falter in the Assembly where more moderate, business-friendly Democrats hold power.

    The forces are building to block the bill, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat. The oil industry, a steady source of campaign funds, is putting pressure on Assembly Democrats to stop the bill or water it down. These foes predict gas rationing, extra fees and arbitrary directives from state bureaucrats if the law kicks in.

    Walking away from the bill would be a mistake, a step backward that will deny California cleaner air, greener energy and an opportunity to lead a timid nation on an essential issue. Wavering lawmakers should consider a recent poll showing that two-thirds of the state believes a deepening drought is linked to climate change and supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s directives that match up with SB350.

    Along with California’s welcoming politics on the topic, there is direct experience to consider. Tech breakthroughs ranging from cleaner-burning engines to cheaper solar panels are helping this state move forward. Growing numbers of high-mileage cars, including electric and hybrid models, are expected to provide nearly half of the gas savings needed to hit the 50 percent drop by 2030.

    There are reasons to be cautious. Energy improvements often come with steep startup costs such as solar panels on the roof or the purchase of a gas-thrifty car. Low-income residents will need a break in tapping technology available only to well-off consumers. State regulators should be flexible in designing new programs to advance conservation.

    But California has shown it can adapt and thrive as it heads in this direction. Climate change is a provable and genuine threat to the state’s future. It’s time to adopt genuine changes that guide the state in the right direction and serve as a model for the rest of the country.

    How far should California go?
    A sweeping bill would change the way residents drive, live and work. Here are the major ingredients of SB350, which has passed the state Senate and is up for a vote in the Assembly:

    On the road: Cut petroleum use in half by 2030. Tailpipe emissions are a top source of carbon dioxide, the main factor behind climate change. Oil companies are lobbying heavily against the limit, saying it will bring angry lines at gas pumps in a car-crazy state. Higher-mileage cars including electric and hybrids will be key in making this directive work.

    On the grid: Half of the state’s electricity would come from renewables, up from a one-third level in five years. Utilities have qualms but are not actively opposed.

    In the home: Doubling the efficiency in buildings to conserve heating and cooling costs. No major opposition.

    Share...

      Does zero Bakken crude for Irving Oil indicate a trend?

      Repost from Railway Age
      [Reference:  see the 8/20/15 Wall Street Journal article, Canada’s Largest Refinery Shifts from Bakken Shale Oil to Brent Crudes.  – RS]

      Does zero Bakken crude for Irving Oil indicate a trend?

      By  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief, August 28, 2015
      Irving Oil Ltd. Saint John, N.B. refinery
      Irving Oil Ltd. Saint John, N.B. refinery

      Irving Oil Ltd., operator of Canada’s largest crude oil refinery, has stopped importing crude oil sourced from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and shipped by rail in favor of cheaper crudes from such producers as OPEC, “reflecting a shift in crude costs affecting East Coast refiners during a global slump in oil prices,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

      The 320,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Saint John, N.B., one of the biggest by volume in North America, had been receiving 100,000 barrels a day by rail, a high reached two years ago that was only temporarily affected by the Lac Mégantic disaster. (The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic crude oil train that derailed on July 6, 2013, claiming 47 lives, was bound for the refinery). Today, CBR shipments the refinery are zero, a move “that reflects shifting economics in the energy industry even as the price of oil—including Bakken crude—has slumped to six-year lows,” said the WSJ. “About 90% of the crude oil Irving currently buys is shipped by sea from such producers as Saudi Arabia and those in western Africa, with the remainder coming by rail from such western Canadian oil-sands operators as Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. A year ago, Bakken crude made up about 25% of Irving’s feedstock and in 2013 it supplied nearly one-third of its procurement volume, or about 100,000 barrels a day. ‘The Bakken price has gone up’ relative to other crudes when CBR costs are factored in,’ [an Irving Oil executive] said.”

      “A once-yawning gap, between the cost of oil produced in North America and overseas crudes priced at the Brent global benchmark, has narrowed since 2013,” the WSJ noted. “Refiners on North America’s east coast can now import crude shipped by sea for less than the cost of shipping it by rail from shale oil producers in North Dakota and elsewhere in the U.S.”

      Production of U.S. shale oil, especially that from the Bakken, led to CBR shipments increasing exponentially due to a lack of pipelines. CBR is more expensive than by shipping by pipeline and even by ship, and fewer refiners are willing to pay a premium for CBR. <p< Whether Irving Oil’s decision to abandon Bakken crude for a single refinery reflects a broader trend that will affect CBR movements remains to be seen. Two other refiners have followed suit, but the situation may not be permanent.

      “Refiners PBF Energy Inc. and Phillips 66 both said they increased procurement of overseas crudes at the expense of CBR in the second quarter, though they signaled it is unclear if that will continue throughout the rest of the year,” the WSJ reported. “‘Our ability to source sovereign waterborne crudes was far more economic to the East Coast facilities, and that’s what we did,’ PBF Energy CEO Tom Nimbley said in late July. Phillips 66 CEO and Chairman Greg Garland told investors last month, ‘We actually set [crude-by-rail] cars on the siding. We brought imported crudes in the system.’ But, he added, ‘I’d say given where our expectations are for the third quarter, I’d say cars are coming off the sidings, and we’re going to import less crude.’”

      CBR traffic has dropped substantially compared to last year, “reflecting both the worsening economics of CBR and better pipeline access to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico,” the WSJ noted. According to Association of American Railroads figures, U.S. Class I railroads originated 111,068 carloads of crude oil in the second quarter of 2015, down 2,201 carloads from the first quarter and some 21,000 fewer carloads than the peak in 2014’s third quarter.

       

      Share...

        Major Climate Change Bills PASS Critical Committee Vote in California Legislature, ACTION needed!

        From a League of Conservation Voters email Alert
        [Editor:  Here’s an excellent Fact Sheet on SB350: SB 350: Golden State Standards 50-50-50, by Senators Kevin de León and Mark Leno.  – RS]

        BREAKING NEWS: Major Climate Change Bills PASS Critical Committee Vote in California Legislature

        August 28, 2015, 11:09am PDT
        Send your message!
        Send a message! – click here

        …two major climate change bills just passed critical committee votes in the California Assembly: Senate Bills 32 and 350. Today’s victory in the Appropriations Committee is a win for Californians like you over the profit-driven interests of Big Oil, but the battle for these bills isn’t over yet.

        Only 2 weeks are left in this year’s legislative session, and both SB 32 and SB 350 face serious challenges that must be overcome before time runs out – or they won’t make it to the governor’s desk this year. Take advantage of the momentum from today’s victory and speak out now! Tell lawmakers: We can’t afford to let another year slip by without bold climate action in California! >>

        California League of Conservation Voters

        Share...