Tag Archives: Baltimore MD

Targa Withdraws Plans For Crude Oil Terminal In Baltimore

Email and press release from Jon Kenney, Maryland Community Organizer, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, July 11, 2016 11:03AM
EMAIL:

Victory! Targa Resources formally withdraws permit to construct oil terminal in Baltimore!

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share some very good news to start the week. On Friday afternoon, Targa Resources formally withdrew their permit to construct a new crude oil shipping terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore, which will keep out hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil from being shipped through the city.

This was a result of the combined effort of many groups and community members, but lead the Environmental Integrity Project and CCAN. EIP submitted technical comments on their draft permit last year, and CCAN submitted hundreds of public comments and turned community members out to a public hearing. While there are still crude oil trains moving through the city, this is a great step forward in the fight.

Congrats to everyone involved! Please see the press release below for details, and be sure to send the news to your networks!

Best,
Jon


PRESS RELEASE:

COMPANY WITHDRAWS PLANS FOR CRUDE OIL TERMINAL IN BALTIMORE

Decision by Texas-based Targa Terminals Reduces Dangerous Bakken Oil by Rail Through City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 11, 2016
Media contacts: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, 443-510-2574 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org
Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Jennifer Kunze, Clean Water Action, 410-235-8808. jkunze@cleanwater.org

Baltimore, Md. – Environmental groups today applauded a decision by a Houston-based company to withdraw plans for a crude oil terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore that could have shipped over 383 million gallons of crude by rail through the city and the Chesapeake Bay.

“It is great news for residents of South Baltimore living near rail lines that Targa Terminals has now withdrawn its application for a crude oil terminal permit,” said Leah Kelly, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). “Bakken crude oil is volatile and potentially dangerous, and this permit would have allowed one 35-car train per day of Bakken crude to travel through South Baltimore neighborhoods to the terminal.”

Shipments by rail of crude oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota have been involved in several large explosions since 2013 following train derailments, including an explosion in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic that killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown area, and, last month, an explosion and fire in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge that resulted in an evacuation and, reportedly, cancelation of the last week of school in a nearby town.

Late on Friday, July 8, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) informed EIP that Targa had withdrawn its request for a permit to ship crude oil through its existing terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore.

“This is a victory for Baltimore communities and for the climate,” said Jon Kenney, Healthy Communities Organizer with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Thanks to citizen and legal pressure, Targa has terminated its plan to ship more dangerous crude oil out of Baltimore, and bring a new surge of oil trains through our communities. However, we know there are still thousands of gallons of crude oil rolling through Baltimore every week, putting communities in danger. As a next step, the City Council must act on legislation requiring health and safety studies of oil trains.”

Targa Terminals applied in 2014 for a permit from MDE that would have allowed crude oil shipment and storage at its Fairfield terminal. The company specifically requested approval to handle

In May 2015, MDE put its review of Targa Terminals’ crude oil permit application on hold in response to legal comments filed by attorneys with EIP on behalf of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. MDE said at the time it was not moving forward with any further review “until the department receives additional information from the company.”

On June 29, 2016, Targa Terminals withdrew that application rather than provide the information required by MDE. In a responsive letter dated July 8, 2016, MDE advised the company that, until a crude oil permit is granted, the company is “prohibited from receiving, storing, and/or transferring crude oil at the Baltimore Terminal.”

“We’re happy and relieved that Targa Terminals has chosen not to pursue constructing a crude oil storage and loading facility in South Baltimore,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland State Organizer for Clean Water Action. “If it had been constructed, this would have increased the air pollution in an already-overburdened area of Baltimore, where neighbors just won the fight to stop construction of the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator. It also would have meant more trains carrying volatile crude oil through South and Southwest Baltimore, neighborhoods where people’s homes, parks, churches, and businesses are just yards from the tracks – putting them at risk of an explosion if one of those train cars derailed.”

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    Maryland judge orders railroads to release oil train reports

    Repost from McClatchyDC

    Maryland judge orders release of oil train reports

    HIGHLIGHTS
    • Case marks first time railroads have lost on the issue in court
    • Judge not persuaded that release would harm security, business
    • Companies that filed 2014 lawsuit have until Sept. 4 to appeal

    By Curtis Tate, August 17, 2015
    Tank cars loaded with crude oil head east at Hurricane, W. Va., in May 2014. A Maryland judge has ordered the release of oil train reports to McClatchy and other news organizations. West Virginia and a handful of other states agreed to keep the the reports confidential.
    Tank cars loaded with crude oil head east at Hurricane, W. Va., in May 2014. A Maryland judge has ordered the release of oil train reports to McClatchy and other news organizations. West Virginia and a handful of other states agreed to keep the reports confidential. Curtis Tate – McClatchy

    WASHINGTON – A Maryland judge rejected two rail carriers’ arguments that oil train reports should be withheld from the public, ordering them released to McClatchy and other news organizations that sought them.

    The ruling isn’t the first time railroads have lost their bid to keep the oil train reports secret, but it is the first court decision recognizing the public’s right to see them.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation began requiring in May 2014 that railroads inform states of large shipments of crude oil after a series of derailments with spills, fires, explosions and evacuations. Since February, six more major oil train derailments have occurred in North America.

    Nonetheless, some railroads have continued to press their case that the reports should be exempt from disclosure under state open records laws. Most states shared the documents anyway, and Pennsylvania and Texas did so after McClatchy appealed. Maryland is the only state that was taken to court after it said it would release the reports.

    Norfolk Southern and CSX sued the Maryland Department of the Environment in July 2014 to stop the state agency from releasing the records to McClatchy and the Associated Press. They have until Sept. 4 to appeal the decision, issued Friday by Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

    Both companies, which transport crude oil to East Coast refineries concentrated in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said they would review the decision.

    Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said the company would “respond at the appropriate time and venue.”

    Melanie Cost, a spokeswoman for CSX, said the railroad “remains committed to safely moving these and all other shipments on its network.”

    The ruling isn’t the first time railroads have lost their bid to keep the oil train reports secret, but it is the first court decision recognizing the public’s right to access them.

    In his 20-page opinion, Fletcher-Hill was not persuaded by arguments that releasing the oil train reports would harm the railroads’ security and business interests. He also dismissed the relevance of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s May final rule addressing the safety of oil trains. The companies had argued that the final rule supported their claims.

    He also ordered the companies to pay any open court costs.

    In a statement, Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said the agency was pleased with the ruling and that it is “committed to transparency in government.”

    Rail transportation of Bakken crude oil, produced through hydraulic fracturing of shale formations in North Dakota, has grown exponentially in the past five years. However, a series of fiery derailments, including one in Quebec in 2013 that killed 47 people, have raised numerous concerns about public safety, environmental protection and emergency planning and response.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued an emergency order on May 7, 2014, that required any railroad shipping 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil through a state to inform that state’s emergency response commission what routes the trains would take and which counties they would cross, as well as provide a reasonable estimate of how many trains to expect in a week.

    Beginning in June 2014, McClatchy submitted open records requests in 30 states for the oil train reports, including Maryland.

    McClatchy was able to glean some of the details in the Maryland report through a Freedom of Information Act request to Amtrak, which owns part of Norfolk Southern’s oil train route in the state. The subsequent release of oil train reports in Pennsylvania revealed more about such operations in Maryland.

    On Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released an 84-page assessment of oil train safety in the state, which examined derailment risk, tank car failures and regulatory oversight. Some Maryland lawmakers have called for the state to perform a similar assessment.

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      Baltimore City Council holds hearing on crude oil transport

      Repost from The Baltimore Sun

      City Council holds hearing on crude oil transport

      By Christina Jedra, July 8, 2015, 9:57pm
      Crude oil train in Maryland
      Port Deposit, MD — A Norfolk-Southern train transporting crude oil heads north through Port Deposit past a railroad crossing near the U.S. Post Office. Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

      The City Council held its first public hearing Wednesday on the safety of shipping crude oil through Baltimore, with environmental advocates expressing concern about the practice.

      “Right now, we are in a blast zone,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “City Hall is in a blast zone.”

      According to advocates, 165,000 Baltimore residents live within a one-mile radius of train routes that are potentially vulnerable to explosions from crude oil train derailments.

      City Council Vice President Edward Reisinger said the informational hearing was called to evaluate the threat the shipments pose to the city.

      Reisinger said recent derailments — such as one in Quebec in July 2013 that killed 47 people in a massive explosion — are cause for concern. He also pointed to an April 2014 derailment in Lynchburg, Va., that spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the James River.

      The hearing Wednesday evening at City Hall lasted about two hours. Dozens of advocates — many from the climate action network and Clean Water Action — held a rally outside earlier.

      “It’s not a matter of if another oil train will derail … it’s only a question of when,” said the Rev. Amy Sens of six:eight United Church of Christ.

      The Maryland Department of the Environment recently denied an application by a Houston-based company to ship crude oil through Baltimore’s port terminal near Fairfield. A Connecticut-based company, Axeon Specialty Products, ships tens of millions of gallons of crude oil through the terminal.

      It’s not known how much crude oil is shipped through the city or state. Norfolk Southern and CSX sued the state agency to prevent it from releasing the information.

      Tidwell said the “No. 1 thing” advocates want is transparency — knowing the quantities, routes and times that hazardous materials are transported in local areas.

      Trisha Sheehan, the regional field manager of Moms Clear Air Force, said she would like to see trains rerouted away from “vulnerable populations,” such as hospitals and schools, and a transition to renewable energy sources.

      City emergency management officials answered questions for council members. Executives from rail companies, including Norfolk Southern and CSX, also were invited to attend.

      Jon Kenney, a community organizer for the climate action network, said the hearing was necessary to raise public attention.

      “Residents of Baltimore want [the council] to take action on oil trains in their communities,” Kenney said. “We have been talking to community members who live along the rail routes, and they are concerned. The rail companies are keeping everyone in the dark.”

      Reisinger said the council can take little action to influence the sorts of shipments made along rail lines. Still, he said, it is important to discuss how prepared the city and the companies are to safeguard communities from future accidents.

      Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said company officials recognize that communities like Baltimore look to them to operate the rail lines safely. He said Norfolk Southern has long had a record of safe delivery of hazardous materials.

      “This country depends on the railroads to operate safely,” he said. “That is something we have to shoulder.”

      He declined to say how much crude oil Norfolk Southern transports through Baltimore, citing safety concerns, among other reasons. Crude oil makes up less than 2 percent of the company’s total traffic, he said.

      He said the company works to make sure the shipments it delivers are carried on tank cars that meet the strictest safety standards.

      “We have no choice,” Pidgeon said. “We have to haul hazardous material, including crude oil. If a customer gives us a tank car that meets safety standards, we have to haul it. There’s no question.”

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