California Attorney General opposes Trump administration dithering on bomb train regulation

Attorney General Becerra to Department of Transportation: States Must Retain the Ability to Regulate Trains Transporting Flammable Oil

Press Release, California Attorney General Becerra
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov 
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a multistate coalition, filed a comment letter to the Department of Transportation in support of the State of Washington and in opposition to an attempt by North Dakota and Montana to preempt Washington laws that create a limit on the level of vapor pressure allowed when transporting highly-flammable crude oil by freight rail.
These trains are often known as “bomb trains” because of the high intensity fires and violent explosions that can result from accidents and derailments. These trains travel through California, passing through both highly populated communities and areas adjacent to California’s most sensitive ecological areas.
The state asserts that Washington’s rules are both permissible and necessary in light of the risks of crude-by-rail in Washington and the EPA’s inaction on establishing protective standards, putting communities at risk.

“States play an important role in protecting the health and safety of their citizens,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Millions of Californians live, work, and attend school within the vicinity of railroad tracks. We can’t afford to wait for the next disaster before taking action on the transport of dangerous and flammable oil moving through our communities. A derailment or explosion in California could put countless lives at risk and cause major damage to our land and waterways. This risk is simply unacceptable.”

California supports Washington’s efforts to protect the public health and safety of its residents and its environment while the federal government dithers over adopting necessary regulations. The attorneys general underscore that their paramount concern will remain protecting the health and safety of citizens, first responders, and the environment within the parameters of the state’s existing authority.

Attorney General Becerra filed the comment letter with the attorneys general of New York, Maryland, and New Jersey.

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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    VIDEO: Benicia City Council workshop on air monitoring

    By Roger Straw, October 23, 2019

    Here is filmmaker Constance Beutel’s video of the City of Benicia’s Air Monitoring Workshop with representatives from Benicia Fire Department, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Valero and the newly forming non profit, Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program.

    For more background and the staff report, see Mayor Patterson’s invitation, Benicia City Council workshop on Air Monitoring.

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      Plans To Build New Petrochemical Tanks In Rodeo Face Pushback Following NuStar Fire

      KPIX 5 News Evening, October 22, 2019

      Excellent 6-minute video report on local concerns about Phillips 66 expansion proposal

      A KPIX 5 original report is revealing new plans underway to build more petrochemical tanks inside Phillips 66’s Rodeo refinery, next to the facility where two storage tanks exploded and burned last week. Andria Borba reports. (10-22-2019)
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        Benicia City Council workshop on Air Monitoring – Tues. Oct 22, 6pm

        An E-Alert from Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, October 20, 2019

        The city council is conducting a workshop on air monitors this Tuesday at 6:00 at the Benicia Library, Dona Benicia Room.  The agenda and staff report are on line.

        The staff report states:

        AIR MONITORING STUDY SESSION (Fire Chief)

        Air monitoring in the City of Benicia has greatly improved over the last year. During this study session, Fire Department staff will provide the City Council with an overview of current and future air monitoring programs in the City. Additionally, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) staff will be available to present the City Council with an update on the district’s efforts to improve air monitoring programs in the region, Valero Refinery staff will be available to address concerns with their air monitoring programs, and Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program (BCAMP) members will be available to provide an update on efforts to increase air monitoring in the community. The objective of the study session is to provide a comprehensive overview of air monitoring programs and provide a clear picture of efforts to continue to improve the quality of air monitoring in the community.

        There will be opportunity to ask questions.  You may be interested to learn the status of the fence line monitors required by the Air District as well as part of an agreement between the City of Benicia and Valero for measuring many constituents of air pollution including toxic air contaminants such as benzene and H2S.

        In the staff report are letters from the Air District extending the compliance date for the monitors for H2S.  The Air District is providing more time to establish these air monitors for H2S because of problems with existing market monitors for open path monitors.  Fixed measurements may be considered.

        Here is the power point  presentation for June 25, 2019.  The actual agreement does seem to be posted on the city’s website.  Click here for the agreement from my files.

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