LWV to host oil train forumBy Nick Sestanovich, September 4, 2015
As they have for most issues du jour in Benicia, the local chapter of the League of Women Voters will open the floor this month on the subject currently foremost on residents’ minds.
These days, that can only mean one subject: Valero’s proposed Crude-by-Rail Project.
The controversial project will be the subject of a LWV informational forum on Sept. 17.
In 2012, Valero applied for a permit to have crude oil delivered by rail car into its refinery. The move prompted an outcry from some residents over potential environmental and safety concerns.
The matter is currently before the city Planning Commission. Public input is being accepted until Oct. 15 on the latest environmental review of the project.
The goal of the forum, LWV Treasurer Judy Potter said, is to provide clarity in a nonpartisan way on a crucial, complicated topic.
“We’re not planning to present a pro-and-con argument on the crude-by-rail issue,” Potter said. “We’ll just be providing general information on what it is, where we are and what the planning process is.”
She said the forum will feature an overview by featured speaker Leslie Stewart, an energy and air quality reporter for the LWV Bay Area Monitor. Planning, policies and regulation related to the transportation of petroleum and other hazardous materials, particularly as it relates to Benicia, will also be discussed.
“People have lots of questions about how this project, if approved, will impact our community and surrounding communities,” Potter said. “It’s an issue that’s fraught with strong opinions from both sides, so it’s important for the community to get as much information as possible.”
The Sept. 17 forum will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Southampton Swim Club, 10 Chelsea Hills Drive. It is free and open to the public.