CRAIG SNIDER: An interesting evening at City Hall last night

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An interesting evening at City Hall last night

By Craig Snider, April 19, 2016

It was an interesting evening at City Hall last night.

According to Valero, and the “City’s” Valero-funded contract attorney; the City of Benicia has no right to deny the project, because Valero is a “shipper” and when a shipper uses a train to ship their goods, under federal law, nobody can stop them. That’s it in a nutshell.

In other words, if Valero wanted to ship nuclear waste to their refinery and store it there, the City can do nothing to stop them. End of discussion.

Someone needs to tell the citizens of Oakland to stop wasting their time fighting the Utah coal proposal since that city is apparently powerless to prevent a coal exporter from setting up shop and shipping coal out of the Port of Oakland.

Fortunately, our Attorney General and many other knowledgeable attorneys have informed the Council that this interpretation is wrong. A shipper’s rights do not trump State, County, or City zoning laws.

Unfortunately (for those of us that are tired of this issue), three City Council members agreed to postpone the decision until an “opinion” can be obtained from the Federal Surface Transportation Board which may or may not choose to offer their opinion regarding our situation.

Their opinion, if they offer it, is just that. And the City Council will still have to weigh the merits of the various arguments on either side of this issue and choose.

And in either case, a suit will likely follow.

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