Kamala Harris letters

By Roger Straw, August 11, 2020

Future Vice President Kamala Harris remembered in Benicia for her strong support

Kamala Harris, former California Attorney General and current Vice Presidential running mate for Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s nominee for Vice President, California Senator Kamala Harris, has a remarkable connection for many of us here in Benicia.  Her support for a safe and healthy world was incredibly important in the 2016 defeat of Valero Benicia’s dirty and dangerous oil train proposal.  The story should be told now, to honor Harris’ candidacy and to encourage support for a Biden/Harris ticket among all who care about clean air, land and water.

During our 3½ year battle to defeat Valero Benicia’s Crude By Rail proposal, then California Attorney General Kamala Harris wrote two letters challenging Valero’s project and the City of Benicia’s environmental review.  Her support was critical in support of local organizing efforts by Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and others far and wide.

Harris’ first letter came on October 2, 2014.  The letter is summarized and linked here:

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL LETTER CRITICAL OF VALERO DEIR

OCTOBER 8, 2014, Summary, from p. 2: Unfortunately, the DEIR for this Project fails to properly account for many of the Project’s potentially significant impacts pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act(CEQA). Specifically, the DEIR: 1. … Continue reading California Attorney General letter critical of Valero DEIR→

Harris’ support added incalculable weight to the credibility of local and regional organizers, and caught the attention of news agencies across the country:

BLOOMBERG: CALIFORNIA AG REJECTS TRADE-SECRET CLAIMS FOR CRUDE-BY-RAIL

OCTOBER 22, 2014, Repost from Bloomberg News By Victoria Slind-Flor – California Attorney General Kamala Harris expressed reservations about the trade-secret provisions in a proposal for a crude-by-rail project in Benicia, California. In a letter to the city’s Community Development Department, she said the draft environmental impact report for … Continue reading Bloomberg: California AG Rejects Trade-Secret Claims for Crude-by-Rail→

RAILROADS FILE SUIT AGAINST STATE OF CALIFORNIA

OCTOBER 9, 2014, Repost from The Sacramento Bee – By Tony Bizjak and Curtis Tate – The battle over crude oil trains in California intensified this week, reaching into the legal sphere with potential national repercussions. The state’s … Continue reading Railroads file suit against state of California→

A year and a half later, on April 14, 2016, Harris sent a second letter asserting that Benicia’s Planning Commission and City Council have every right to deny a land use permit for Valero’s proposed Crude by Rail offloading rack.  I highlighted her convincing prosecutorial language in my headline:

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: “FOR BENICIA TO TURN A BLIND EYE…”

APRIL 15, 2016, By Roger Straw – California Attorney General Kamala Harris: letter disagrees with City of Benicia staff, consultants and Valero Today the City of Benicia received a letter from California Attorney General Kamala Harris disagreeing with City staff, consultants and Valero Refinery. The letter asserts that Benicia’s Planning Commission and City Council have every right to deny a … Continue reading CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: “For Benicia to turn a blind eye…”→

And again, her challenge was picked up by media outlets far and wide.  A sampling:

EAST BAY EXPRESS: ATTORNEY GENERAL HARRIS: BENICIA HAS POWER TO REJECT OIL FACILITY

APRIL 15, 2016, By Jean Tepperman – In a strongly-worded letter sent Thursday to City of Benicia officials, California Deputy Attorney General Scott J. Lichtig wrote that Valero, the City of Benicia’s planning staff, and an outside attorney advising the … Continue reading EAST BAY EXPRESS: Attorney General Harris: Benicia Has Power to Reject Oil Facility→

SACRAMENTO BEE: CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL KAMALA HARRIS CHALLENGES BENICIA OIL PLAN

APRIL 14, 2016, By Tony Bizjak – HIGHLIGHTS: • Harris said Benicia has the right to say no, is not pre-empted by federal law • Two 50-car oil trains would travel daily through downtown Sacramento • Valero spokesman: ‘We remain confident … Continue reading SACRAMENTO BEE: California Attorney General Kamala Harris challenges Benicia oil plan→

Finally… Benicia wasn’t the only recipient of Harris’ environmental support during those days.  See also…

DIANE BAILEY: CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL LETTER, PROTESTS IN PITTSBURG 1/21/14

JANUARY 18, 2014, Repost from Diane Bailey’s blog, Switchboard, Natural Resources Defense Council California Attorney General Tells Major Oil Terminal Developer, WesPac, to Hold Up in Pittsburg Posted January 17, 2014 by Diane Bailey in Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Moving Beyond Oil The California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, sent a stark letter to the City of Pittsburg this week warning of … Continue reading Diane Bailey: California Attorney General Letter, Protests in Pittsburg 1/21/14→


For a trip down memory lane, see my permanent archive: The successful effort to STOP oil trains in Benicia, California

(beniciaindependent.com/crude-by-rail-archive/)

Roger Straw

For safe and healthy communities…