Repost from the Benicia Herald
[Editor: An excellent perspective on the economic risks that local communities take on when they permit crude by rail. No link is provided for this letter because the Benicia Herald does not publish Letters in its online edition. (Yes, I still remember how to type! ) – RS]
The high-risk cost of crude by railBy Kat Black, August 26, 2015
For the past few years, I have been listening to the Valero Benicia Refinery representatives and supporters of the refinery’s proposed Crude-by-Rail Project make statements supporting the project because of the large tax revenue Valero provides for the city of Benicia. But when did tax revenue override health and safety? Valero’s most recent propaganda cites the loss of over $300,000 per year because of the delay in the project, and further cites that as loss of pay for police and paramedics. Notwithstanding that that particular claim is completely unsubstantiated, the people and business owners of the city of Benicia are entitled to due process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), regardless of the time it takes. This is the law. To say Benicia is losing money because of CEQA is a simple propaganda ploy, an effort to make people believe they are less safe because the project has not yet been approved. Why else would they quote police and paramedics? Why didn’t they quote the library or other services?
There has been a lot of press on crude train derailments and explosions over the past few years. We need to consider what the cost would be if this project is approved and a subsequent explosion were to happen, as has already happened in the U.S. and Canada. If you are a property or a business owner, your property value would very likely decrease. There is a local precedent for this: In August, 2012, there was a large explosion and fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. In 2013, the County Assessor increased property values for all cities in Contra Costa County except Richmond, where property values were lowered. The Assessor specifically cited the Chevron explosion as the precise reason for the devaluation. The City of Richmond was subsequently hit with a $2.5 million deficit for the loss of property tax revenue.
Do you want to risk the devaluation of your property or the property tax revenue for the City? The risks are just too high. Stop Valero’s dangerous Crude-by-Rail Project!