Freight train derailment a ‘wake-up call’ on rail safety, councillor says
Human error blamed for freight train derailment in heart of the city after a Canadian Pacific Railway train collided with another on Sunday morning.
By Ebyan Abdigir, Aug. 21, 2016
Human error is being blamed for a freight train derailment in the heart of Toronto Sunday morning that had crews scrambling to contain a diesel fuel leak.
The derailment happened after a train struck the tail of another train at about 5:20 a.m. near Dupont and Bathurst Sts., Canadian Pacific Railway spokesperson Martin Cej told the Star.
No one was injured in the collision and subsequent derailment and the diesel fuel leak, which Toronto police said had not been a threat to public safety, was quickly contained.
Cej said that one car was carrying batteries and aerosols, which are classified as “dangerous goods” under Canadian regulation, but they did not leak, he confirmed.
City councillor Josh Matlow raised new concerns Sunday about freight trains running through densely populated neighbourhoods.
“While it was incredibly fortunate no one was hurt today, this derailment should act as a wake-up call for the federal government to move swiftly on rail safety,” he said.
This spring, Mayor John Tory, Matlow and 16 other councillors whose wards are nestled by rail lines, signed a letter sent to Marc Garneau, the federal Transport Minister, calling for better rail safety.
The 2016 federal budget allocated $143 million to be used over three years to improve rail safety.
Cej said “early indications” point to human error as the cause of Sunday’s collision and derailment and that equipment failure was not a factor.
Bartlett Ave., north of Dupont, was closed while police and rail officials investigated the incident.
Although there were no dangerous goods on board either train Sunday, roughly 9 per cent of goods transported by CP in Ontario are regulated dangerous goods, according to a disclosure to Transport Canada for 2015.
A 2014 investigation by Star reporter Jessica McDiarmid monitored CP’s rail line that crosses Barlett Ave. on its way to Dupont St. in the Junction before it goes northward, west of the Don Valley.
Between two 12-hour shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the Star found that more than 130 cars and tanks carried dangerous goods such as crude oil, methyl bromide and ethyl trichlorosilane, and more.
Since the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster, rail companies are required to provide information to municipalities for emergency planning, however, under strict confidentiality agreements. Canada’s largest railroads already did this upon request.
In February 2015, the federal government introduced a bill that increased the amount of insurance railways must carry to cover costs in the event of a derailment.
Donald Trump is many things, but we now know that in at least one area he would be a totally unique world leader if elected president: He would be the only leader of any nation to reject the science and dangers of climate change.
The Associated Press recently reported on a new study from the Sierra Club that reveals that every current world leader recognizes both the science of climate change and the dangers it poses to humanity.
Some have assumed that leaders of other nations around the world, including those countries most dependent on fossil fuels or with despotic leaders, hold similar views regarding climate denial and opposition to all climate action. But this study demonstrates that, from our closest allies like Canada, Japan and Germany, to the largest carbon emitters like India, China and Brazil, to the most fossil-fuel dependent states like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, to countries as varied as Zimbabwe, North Korea and Fiji, the leaders of all nations accept the scientific consensus that man is fueling climate change by burning fossil fuels and are calling for urgent action.
America’s closest partners, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have said that “climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the Paris climate conference, said there: “This is a pivotal issue of our time. … We are one planet, and climate knows no bounds.”
Trump, in stark contrast, has made his views clear over the last few years. In his opinion, “the scientists are having a lot of fun.” Over the years, he’s described climate change as a “hoax,” “mythical,” “nonexistent” a “con job,” and “bulls- – -.”
He even said that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
In actual fact, NASA has made clear that “97 percent of climate scientists agree” on the fact that man is driving climate change by burning fossil fuels.
The Republican Party’s national leadership has long been a notable outlier in the global discussion and national debate on the climate crisis, climate science and the need for action. But it’s only now that we understand just how dangerously far out of step they and their new leader Donald Trump are on this critical issue.
Trump’s absurd position on climate change makes clear that his policies will not just harm the U.S. economy and businesses, but rejecting climate action would undermine America’s global leadership and influence around the world. The world is united as one behind climate action, and Trump’s promise to “cancel” the universal agreement reached in Paris while eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency would completely undermine our standing in the world community and our influence within key alliances.
While Trump claims he will negotiate “fantastic deals” with the rest of the world (think Atlantic City), the reality is that he is poised to undermine decades of progress this country and the world have made on climate action, environmental protection, and ensuring cleaner air to breathe and water to drink. The truth is that Donald Trump is toxic to our environment, noxious to our standing on the world stage.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton believes that “every child and every family in America deserves clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a safe and healthy place to live.” She has and will be a leader on the international climate stage who will build upon our alliances and the progress made in Paris.
What is absolutely clear now is that anyone who cares about the future of humanity’s only home in the universe cannot afford to sit on the sidelines in 2016. We don’t have time to waste four years on the future of this planet. It’s not just all the progress we’ve made on climate action that’s on the line, it’s the health and safety of our families today and future generations to come.
That’s just one of the reasons you can be sure that the Sierra Club will be doing everything we can to elect Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States.
Western States Petroleum Association Continues to Top CA Lobbying Expenses
By Dan Bacher, August 19, 2016
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, continued to dominate the lobbying spending in Sacramento in the second quarter of 2016.
“If you can count on anything, it’s WSPA (Western States Petroleum Association) throwing down some serious cash on lobbying,” said Stop Fooling California in their latest newsletter, the Crude Truth. “And this quarter was no exception.”
At the helm of WSPA is President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas in Southern California. The “marine protected areas” created under her “leadership” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, oil spills, pollution, military testing, energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
Reheis-Boyd, who continually pushes for the evisceration of California environmental laws and the expansion of fracking and offshore oil drilling in California, also served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.
The group broke down some alarming Big Oil lobbying figures for the 2015-16 Legislation Session:
• WSPA ranks #1 among lobbying spenders this session, paying $2.2 million to KP Public Affairs, the top-grossing lobbying firm in California.
• WSPA has spent over $3 million so far in 2016, and $14 million since January 2015.
• Overall, the oil lobby has spent nearly $28 million to date in the 2015-16 legislative session.
“That’s an average of over $50,000 per day since January 1, 2015, and includes the $6.3 million in lobbying expenses reported so far in 2016 (over $1 million per month in 2016),” the group said. “If you’re into math, that translates into Big Oil spending $39 per asthmatic child in California to deny their right to breath clean air.”
• Chevron has spent $5.5 million so far in the 2015-16 session. Chevron ranks #5 among all lobbyists in the current session. “If there is any doubt that lobbying equals real influence, look no further than SB32, a bill setting a 40 percent emissions reduction target below 1990 levels by 2030, which may be punted into the next legislative session,” the group added.
For lobbying “its face off,” Stop Fooling California awarded WSPA their latest “Scummy” award.
WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in five major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: and (5) working in collaboration with media.
Powering California: Big Oil teams up with LA Times
Stop Fooling California’s previous “Scummy” award went to “Powering California” for its new videos praising oil and attacking green energy.
“You may remember Powering California,” the group said. “It’s a front group of Occidental Petroleum’s spinoff company California Resources Corp. (yes, that’s complicated on purpose), which teamed up with the Los Angeles Times’ ‘content solutions’ team to spread industry propaganda last year.”
“Powering California is back, now with a series of videos, at the exact time California is debating critical legislation that will determine our climate future, in California and in other states,” Stop Fooling California said.
As Media Matters for America reported: “Powering California is out with a series of new videos praising oil and attacking clean energy sources. One of the videos baselessly asserts that ‘renewable energy can’t replace oil,’ falsely claims wind energy is ‘expensive,’ and bombastically declares that ‘oil and natural gas are woven into the fabric of America.’ Another video features feel-good man-on-the-street interviews with paid actors touting California’s oil and gas industry.” (http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/07/25/party-conventions-big-oil-s-media-manipulation-strategy-full-display/211879)
Consumer Watchdog: Fossil fuel industry has donated $9.8 to Jerry Brown
Meanwhile, Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer organization, on August 10 released an alarming report claiming that oil, gas and utilities gave $9.8 million to Governor Jerry Brown and his causes, often within days of winning big favors.
“The timing of energy industry donations around important legislation and key pro-industry amendments, as well as key regulatory decisions in which Brown personally intervened, raises troubling questions about whether quid pro quos are routine for this administration,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker, author of the report, in a press release. “While Brown paints himself as a foe of fossil fuels, his Administration promoted reckless oil drilling, burning dirty natural gas to make electricity, and used old hands from industry and government, placed in key regulatory positions, to protect the fossil fuel-reliant energy industry.”
In spite of its reputation as a green state, California under Governor Jerry Brown is the third biggest oil state in the nation and a promoter of some of the most environmentally devastating policies in the country.
The Governor is promoting as his legacy the Delta Tunnels/California Water Fix, the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history that poses a huge threat to the ecosystems of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Klamath and Trinity river systems. As Brown relentlessly pushes the tunnels plan, his administration is overseeing water policies that are driving winter run-Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other species closer and closer to extinction.
Jerry Brown also oversaw the “completion” of faux “marine protected areas” under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, overseen by the WSPA president and other corporate interests, in December 2012.
Brown has also promoted carbon trading and REDD policies that pose an enormous threat to Indigenous Peoples around the globe; has done nothing to stop clearcutting of forests by Sierra-Pacific and other timber companies; backs the weakening of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); presided over record water exports from the Delta in 2011; and oversaw massive fish kills of Sacramento splittail and other species in 2011.
Brown may spout “green” rhetoric when he flies off to climate conferences and issues proclamations about John Muir Day and Earth Day, but his actions and policies regarding fish, water and the environment are among the worst of any Governor in recent California history. That’s why to anybody familiar with the real record of Governor Jerry Brown, Consumer Watchdog’s “Dirty Hands” report is no surprise.
Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher email@example.com.