Crude Consensus: A Community Meeting on Valero’s Proposed Rail Terminal

Community meeting on July 9 attended by over 70

Valero’s proposed rail terminal could significantly impact air emissions, public health, the Suisun Marsh, emergency response time, traffic, and noise. Could it also open the door to increase supplies of very high-sulfur, low-quality crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to Valero’s Benicia Refinery? Benicia Good Neighbor Steering Committee and the Natural Resources Defense Council offered a workshop on July 9 to discuss potential hazards to Benicia residents, and ways to participate in the City’s evaluation of the project.

NRDC presented the findings of expert research commissioned by them on potential environmental impacts of the project, including local air pollution.

Over 70 local and Bay Area residents attended, along with our Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert and representatives from the office of California Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. All local print media and KQED Science were present to cover the event.

Benicians once again showed their incredible knowledge and interest in public decision-making as they asked a host of important questions. Many of those present plan to attend the July 11 meeting of the Benicia Planning Commission.


    Benicia Herald op ed: Do Benicians want tar-sands oil brought here?

    Repost from The Benicia Herald

    Do Benicians want tar-sands oil brought here?

    THE RAVAGES OF tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada. Sierra Club

    By Roger Straw

    MANY THANKS TO BENICIA HERALD REPORTER Donna Beth Weilenmann for her detailed report, “Valero rail project: City has no control over oil source” (June 12). It is unfortunate that City Manager Brad Kilger is quoted saying, “The city does not have the authority to control the refinery’s crude sources.”

    The source of Valero’s crude is important — here in Solano County, and globally. Since the city can’t control it, perhaps those of us who live here should persuade our friendly giant Valero to stay away from Canadian tar-sands oil of its own volition.

    The world is dying, not so slowly, from the burning of fossil fuels. The most polluting of these fuels is mined in Alberta, Canada, where investors are extracting a thick, tar-like substance called “bitumen” from deep layers of sand. This sludge is blasted out of the sand with heated water. Millions of gallons of water are used daily, which first must be heated by natural gas, so the process is not energy efficient and can never be truly competitive with regard to “return on investment” after all costs are factored.

    Moreover, additional costs are too often not accounted for — in particular the destruction of miles and miles of pristine northern boreal forests, and in their place the creation of a hellish network of open pit mines, wells, roads, pipes and hundreds of toxic “lakes” from the water used in the extraction process. The destruction has expanded to an area larger than Ohio or Pennsylvania.

    Next comes the problem of creating a “blend” of crude oil from the tar-like bitumen that is fluid enough to be transportable by pipeline (Keystone XL), or now by rail. The gazillion-dollar heated railroad cars, we are told by Mr. Kilger, who cites a study paid for by Valero, are “specifically designed not to rupture,” and the city, county, state and feds are all well-prepared to take care of any emergency.

    Sure. Tell that to the residents who live near Kalamazoo, Mich., where my daughter was born. We have friends and family nearby there, and their story of leaked tar-sands crude is horrific. After spending more than $765 million on a three-year cleanup there, the Kalamazoo River is still plagued by sunken heavy balls of tar-sands bitumen, threatening habitat, wildlife and human health. For background, see “April Flooding Could Affect Cleanup of 2010 Michigan Oil Spill,” by David Hasemyer:

    “Removing dilbit (diluted bitumen) from water is more difficult than removing conventional oil because the chemicals used to thin the bitumen gradually evaporate, while the bitumen sinks to the river bottom.”

    Imagine that gunk flowing into our Suisun Marsh after a train derailment — what would that look like? For an idea, read InsideClimate News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning authors’ “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of,” about “a project that began with a seven-month investigation into the million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. It broadened into an examination of national pipeline safety issues, and how unprepared the nation is for the impending flood of imports of a more corrosive and more dangerous form of oil.”

    We in Benicia — including our neighbors in positions of influence at Valero — need to do some very important homework and ask a lot of questions before this new crude-by-rail project is approved. Imagine a disaster here, or better yet, imagine no opportunity for one. The hearing at the Planning Commission is set for July 11. Comments should be sent by July 1 to City Manager Brad Kilger at City Hall, 250 East L St., Benicia, or by email to

    Roger Straw is a Benicia resident.


      Gun Violence is a problem in Benicia

      [Editor: This is from a very early edition of The Benicia Independent – reposted much later…  – R.S.]

      May 16, 2013, 2:30 PM

      Gun Violence is a problem in Benicia

      Gun violence is in fact a BENICIA problem … it is time to take action in EVERY city and town. Here are 21 links to Benicia Herald reports of gun violations in Benicia since April, 2010.

      BREAKING: Armed Liberty High student accused of threatening classmate

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter
      Benicia police arrested a 17-year-old Liberty High School student they said made threats Wednesday to kill a classmate, and Thursday brought a gun to campus, Lt. Frank Hartig said. The youth’s identity was not disclosed, but he was accused of felony counts of terrorist threats and possessing a firearm on school grounds, as well as misdemeanor accusations of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number; of being a minor in possession of ammunition; possession of an assault weapon; and being a minor in possession of a concealed firearm, Hartig said.
      May 16, 2013

      County youth homicide rate on the rise
      Solano ranks 6th in California

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Solano County has been ranked sixth among California counties in youth and young adult homicides, said Marty Langley, policy analyst for the the Violence Policy Center, Washington, D.C. San Joaquin County topped the list that is based on 2011 statistics, and several counties reported no homicides among those 10 to 24, the age range that is the focus of the center’s report.
      March 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Police search reveals drugs, ‘suspected Molotov cocktail’
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Benicia police arrested a Benicia man early Monday in the Solano County Square parking lot after a police dog detected drugs in the vicinity of the man’s car. A search turned up drugs, weapons and a suspected incendiary device, Lt. Frank Hartig said Tuesday afternoon.
      December 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Man sought in Benicia robbery dies in standoff Police: After chase to Treasure Island, Duncan Phillips shot himself
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A man sought by Benicia police in the Thanksgiving Day armed robbery of one woman and theft of another women’s car died early Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot after a lengthy standoff on Treasure Island, San Francisco police said. Duncan Phillips, 29, had been the subject of a Benicia police search after he was suspected of attacking and robbing a 52-year-old woman at her apartment on the 900 block of Southampton Road, Lt. Frank Hartig said.
      November 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Armed robbery at Fast and Easy Mart
      Staff Report

      Fast and Easy Mart, 1500 East Fifth Street, was held up Thursday night by armed robbers, police said. The lone clerk described the four assailants as African-American men in the 20s or 30s, wearing dark-colored bandanas over their mouths, police said.
      August 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Held in county lockup, suspect charged with attempted murder of police officer 
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      The 22-year-old American Canyon man identified as the suspect who exchanged gunfire with a Benicia police officer Saturday afternoon remained in Solano County Jail, Fairfield, after his arrest Sunday morning in Vallejo, authorities said Monday. Robert Flores Folster was arrested by Benicia police with help from Vallejo police at 1324 Lincoln Road East in Vallejo on Sunday morning, according to Lt. Mike Greene and Solano County Jail records. Folster has been booked on charges of burglary, endangerment of a child that could result in injury or death, attempted murder, carjacking, receiving stolen property and vehicle theft, according to jail records. All are felony charges. While bail of $1,050,000 was set for the first three charges, Folster is being held without bail on the latter three.
      July 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Drug, gun charges for Benicia juvenile

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A 17-year-old Benicia driver who ran a stop sign late Thursday was arrested on weapons and drug charges and was taken to Solano County Juvenile Hall in Fairfield, Lt. Frank Hartig said Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
      July 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      BREAKING: Man robs 7-11 at gunpoint

      with 2 comments
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A convenience store clerk was robbed at gunpoint early Tuesday, and the suspect not only demanded money from the register’ but the clerk’s wallet as well, Benicia police Lt. Frank Hartig said.
      The robber escaped on foot, and the clerk was not harmed, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
      June 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Police say Rio Vista man had 2 concealed guns

      with 2 comments
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A Rio Vista man has been jailed after Benicia police accused him of two firearms violations following a traffic stop in a residential area. Read the rest of this entry »
      May 25, 2012 at 5:54 am

      Gunshots in Benicia lead to charge of endangerment

      with one comment
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Benicia Police arrested a 20-year-old Napa man early Wednesday and accused him of endangering a child when he negligently fired a revolver from his car while he on the 1300 block of Southampton Road, Lt. Frank Hartig said. Read the rest of this entry »
      May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      BREAKING: Armed gunman holds up Benicia business

      with 43 comments
      Staff Report
      Benicia police said an armed robber entered a Southampton business Thursday afternoon and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash.
      No one was injured in the holdup at Check Into Cash, 806 Southampton Road, police said. Read the rest of this entry »

      Police find 59 guns; resident arrested

      with 5 comments

      SOME of the 59 guns police confiscated from a Benicia resident Thursday, including a 9mm UZI.
      Courtesy BPD
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A 49-year-old Benicia man has been arrested and a cache of guns, including an illegal 9 mm UZI assault weapon, were confiscated after Benicia police looked into reports Thursday that the man had been harassing a 20-year-old Martinez woman, Lt. Mike Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
      October 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      Police arrest parolee on weapons charges
      Staff Report

      Benicia police on Friday arrested a Magalia, Calif., man after finding a handgun and tools commonly used for car theft in his possession. Police Sgt. John Daley stopped a 1994 Acura on the 900 block of Cambridge Drive at about 6:24 a.m. for an expired registration. After the stop police determined that the passenger, Brad Stancliff, 23, had a felony warrant for his arrest from the California Department of Corrections, according to a Benicia Police Department news release.
      April 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      Police: Man aimed gun at roommate

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A 28-year-old Benicia man who police said pointed a handgun at his roommate’s forehead Tuesday evening was arrested and charged with a felony.
      Lt. Mike Daley said the 34-year-old roommate called police and said the man had pointed the gun at him about 6:46 p.m. after they had been arguing. Read the rest of this entry »
      March 17, 2011 at 5:31 am

      Absent plate leads to weapons, drug arrest
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      The occupants of a Ford Thunderbird missing its rear license plate were arrested Tuesday night and charged with weapons and drug violations, Benicia police Lt. Mike Daley said Wednesday. Benicia K-9 Officer Damiean Sylvester noticed the Thunderbird was missing its plate and stopped the vehicle on East Fifth Street at the eastbound Interstate 780 on-ramp, Daley said. Sylvester spoke with the driver and passenger and discovered each had some prescription medicine but no prescriptions, Daley said. The passenger also had a substance police believe is methamphetamine, he said.
      March 10, 2011 at 1:32 am

      Lone gunman robs store in Southampton

      By Marc Ethier

      “Friday the 13th” it was not, but a lone gunman wearing a mask popularized by the horror film series was deadly serious Wednesday when he entered a Southampton Shopping Center store.
      The gunman entered GameStop, 821 Southampton Road, at 9:54 p.m. wearing a white hockey mask, according to a Benicia police report. He brandished but did not point a black, semi-automatic-type handgun and demanded cash, then escaped with an undisclosed amount, police said. Read the rest of this entry »
      December 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      Police: Benicia man hospitalized with apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      A Benicia man was taken to an area hospital early Monday after police found him wounded by a gun he may have fired himself.
      The man was listed in critical but stable condition at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek later that day, Lt. Bob Oettinger said. Read the rest of this entry »
      December 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm

      Gunpoint robbery at Homecoming

      with 3 comments
      “One suspect pulled a black, semiautomatic gun and stuck it into the stomach of one of the victims.” — Benicia police Sgt. Scott Przekurat 
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Two 14-year-old Benicia High School students were robbed at gunpoint by four teenagers Friday night after the school’s homecoming game, Benicia police said Monday.
      A school administrator appeared shortly after the four robbed the two boys of their wallets, cell phones and a small amount of money, prompting the robbers to scatter, said Sgt. Scott C. Przekurat of the department’s investigations unit.
      The victims were walking through the campus after the game and had entered an outside hallway along the school’s A Wing at about 11 p.m. when they were approached by the four robbers, all described as wearing dark sweaters or jackets, dark pants, and flat-billed ball caps, Przekurat said. Read the rest of this entry »
      October 18, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      Gunshots spur school lockdown

      ❒ None hurt; police arrest 4 in drive-by 
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Robert Semple Elementary School was placed on lockdown about 2:30 p.m. Thursday while authorities searched the area for gunmen who apparently were stalking a Benicia man and his girlfriend.
      Vincent Winnie, a 22-year-old Vallejo man, and three others were arrested by Benicia police at the Interstate 780-Interstate 80 interchange, Lt. Mike Daley said. They were still being processed by police at press time.
      The incident started before 1 p.m. when police received multiple calls of a possible drive-by shooting at the first block of La Prenda Avenue, Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
      October 1, 2010 at 12:32 am

      City police seek help on reports of gunshots

      BENICIA POLICE Lt. Mike Daley.
      Herald file photo
      ❒ None injured in 2 incidents last week
      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Benicia police are asking residents to help them solve two incidents involving gunfire that occurred four days apart, Lt. Mike Daley said Wednesday.
      The first report was of shots fired on the 400 block of East L Street about 8:10 p.m. on June 29, Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
      July 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm

      Autopsy confirms Benicians’ deaths came by gunshot

      By Donna Beth Weilenman
      Staff Reporter

      Autopsies performed Wednesday on the two Benicia residents who died in an apparent murder-suicide confirmed that Walter Little, 48, and his girlfriend, Julie Strack, 49, both died of gunshot wounds, Solano County Deputy Sheriff Corey McLean said.
      Little, of 69 Vista Grande, died of an intraoral gunshot wound while Strack, of the same address, died of two wounds, one to the head and one to the neck, McLean said. Read the rest of this entry »
      April 17, 2010 at 12:11 am


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