Sacramento Area Council of Governments: Letter critical of Valero DEIR approved

SACOG – representing 6 counties and 22 cities – to file objections by Sept 15 deadline

August 21, 2014
[Editor: This is an edited version of an email by Lynne Nittler of Davis, CA, who attended the meeting.  – RS]

The 28-member Board of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) met on August 21, 2014, and listened to 15 community member comments from Davis, Sacramento, Dixon and Benicia who thanked them for their thorough and well-documented letter on uprail concerns not adequately addressed in the Benicia Valero Crude-by-Rail Project DEIR.  All urged the Board to submit the letter.

In addition, SACOG counsel Kirk Trost, who researched and wrote the letter, explained his efforts to execute their directions and stood by his letter.  A spokesperson from Valero claimed that many of the requests in the letter should be directed to the federal government due to federal preemption.  Union Pacific offered to serve as an information resource as they are not technically involved; however their letter to SACOG (also submitted to the DEIR) stresses federal preemption and states outright, with citations of similar cases, that ”neither SACOG nor its member agencies has authority to  impose the mitigation measures or conditions proposed in the draft Comment Letter on Valero Crude by Rail Project Environmental Impact Report.”

The SACOG Board held to their original plan to submit the letter which they commended and believed stated the truth of the inadequacies of the DEIR.   With just one substitute Director attempting to dismiss or weaken the letter unsuccessfully, the rest of the Board voted to submit the letter.

In the next item on their agenda, the SACOG Board agreed to look at the comments developed by Mr. Trost on the federal DOT Rule-making document presently open for public comment through the end of September.   (For information on how to send your comment to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, see Two-month comment period starts for new federal oil train rules.)

It remains to be seen how this all plays out legally, as Valero and UP are powerful players who are used to winning.

The Sacramento Air Quality Management District will shortly send their letter, another strong one, but more narrowly focused on air quality issues.  Also, watch for letters from the cities of Davis (city council on Sept. 2), Sacramento, Roseville, and Colfax.

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