Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
Valero is NOT a good neighbor!By Rebekah Ramos, September 25, 2015
Valero’s self-proclaimed “Good Neighbor” status is laughable when you begin to peel back the onion and remove the layers of misinformation (or missing information) and reveal the same flavor of corporate propaganda and fearmongering that is used to hold small communities hostage.
There are hidden costs to having Valero as a neighbor that you may not be aware of.
Valero says the City of Benicia is losing more than $360K per year in revenue because of delays in approving their crude by rail project, which could get us 4 new police officers.
Valero DOESN’T say…
- CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) is a law that requires due diligence to properly evaluate environmental impacts and most importantly, inform the public of those impacts. City staff initially attempted to push this project through, under the radar, and without LITTLE public notification – skirting the law. Had it not been for a group of alert citizens bringing this to the public’s attention Valero would have gotten away with implementing a project that would have enormous ramifications to our health, safety, and economic viability, not only in our community, but every community along the rails.
- Our personal safety is NOT at risk because we are short on police officers, it’s at risk because transporting highly volatile crude oil by rail is extremely risky business. More than 17 major oil train accidents have occurred in the last 24 months resulting in explosions, spills, and derailments.
Valero says they contribute 25% to Benicia’s general fund.
Valero DOESN’T say…
- That number is actually 20% AND it doesn’t reflect the millions that Valero has taken away from the city’s coffers in recent years.
- The City of Benicia was forced to pay Valero $2.3 million because Valero filed an appeal for a reduction in its property value from $1.02 billion to $230 million and $964 million to $100 million in 2012 and 2013 respectively despite climbing profits and gas prices since 2010. Benicia loses $2.3 million AND any on-going revenue generated from Valero’s property taxes. How many police officers do you think $2.3 million get us?
Valero says the crude by rail project will reduce air emissions and decrease greenhouse gases. In addition, they say they are entitled to $57million in emission reduction credits because of improvements made to the refinery.
Valero DOESN’T say…
- The recirculated EIR for their crude by rail project specifically states that there will be significant increases in air emissions and greenhouse gases.
- Valero has received dozens of notices of emissions violations nearly every single month of 2014 and 2015 including a violation for Benzene.
- Valero has failed to install any publically accessible emissions monitoring equipment despite their pledge to do so since 2008.
- Emission reduction credits would allow Valero to increase their emissions for new projects, sell or trade their credits to other polluters. Because of Cap and Trade legislation, big polluters in our own backyards get to pollute even more.
- According to the EPA, Valero is the biggest polluter in Solano County, contributing 82% of all toxic releases in 2013. Data for 2014 and 15 is not available.
Valero is desperate to turn a profit and will use whatever means is necessary – squeeze money from the city coffers, pollute our environment, and put our lives at risk – to satisfy the short-term interests of their shareholders. They even threaten to lay people off or sell the refinery if the city doesn’t comply.
We can’t let one business keep our community in such an economically vulnerable situation. The City of Benicia has adopted a Climate Action Plan, but can’t seem to address THE REAL CLIMATE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, which is Valero. It’s time that serious action be taken to seek out and invite other, more sustainable industries to our city because Valero is NOT a Good Neighbor!