Tag Archives: Davis Mayor Dan Wolk

Oil train organizing in Davis, California

Repost from an email, Lynne Nittler, of Davis, CA
[Editor:  Lynne Nittler and her friends at Cool Davis and Yolano Climate Action do a great job of organizing.  Davis is a primary “uprail community” that would be at high risk if Valero Benicia Refinery’s Crude By Rail proposal is permitted.  I appreciated Lynne’s recent update and summary, below.  – RS]

Oil Train: photos, Ca Energy Commission powerpoint, & actions

From: Lynne Nittler
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:15 PM

Dear oil train friends,

1.  July 11 Stop Oil Trains Action –  photos

On July 11, over 80 Davis residents turned out to remember the 2013 oil derailment that decimated Lac-Megantic, taking 47 lives.  Davis faces the threat of a similar accident.  Currently, at least one oil train of Bakken Crude per week passes through Davis headed to the Bay Area.  Two more 100-car trains per day are planned for the near future for the Valero Refinery in Benicia and the Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo…unless citizens stop them.

The Davis Stop Oil Trains action was one of many during the Week of Oil Train Action.  Check out photographs from actions across the country here.  Look for Davis!  https://www.flickr.com/photos/foresethics/sets/72157655110369339

See our own review with photos here:  https://yolanoclimateaction.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/davis-residents-protest-oil-trains-moving-through-town/

2.  Review of July 11:

Locally, the ForestEthics  www.Blast-Zone.org map shows endangered homes and businesses along 2nd Street including the police station, Carlton Plaza Senior Living and Rancho Yolo.  The entire Davis downtown is vulnerable along with parts of UC Davis campus and apartments complexes along Olive Drive.

The July 11 Vigil and Rally highlighted public opposition to oil trains passing through Davis. Too many residents live in the oil train blast zone, the one mile evacuation zone recommended by safety officials in the case of an oil train derailment and fire. ForestEthics calculates that nationwide, 25 million Americans live in the blast zone.

Wearing fiery red, yellow and orange shirts, Davisites met at the train station and walked through the Davis blast zone downtown to the Rotary Stage in Central Park.

We sang feisty songs led by the Raging Grannies.  We’ll be starting a group in Davis.  Let Lynne know if you’re interested.

Mayor Dan Wolk explained the city council’s resolution opposing oil by rail, available at http://citycouncil.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20140422/04B-Opposing-Oil-By-Rail.pdf

City Councilman Lucas Frerichs spoke on the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s nearly unanimous decision to confront the issue.  SACOG is composed of 22 cities and 6 counties.  http://www.sacog.org/calendar/2014/08/rail/pdf/2-Valero%20EIR%20Comments.pdf

At the state level, Senator Lois Wolk shared the past and present legislative responses to the sudden surge of crude-by-rail transport into California aimed at protecting the public as well as sensitive habitat and waterways.

Supervisor Jim Provenza and Damien Luzzo focused on the extraction side of the issue in Yolo County.  Damien offered his story about how he came to oppose fracking at http://tinyurl.com/CAFrackWars and the Pledge of Resistance at http://tinyurl.com/FrackingPledgeOfResistance.  Sign his petition to ban fracking!

3.  Urgent Action:  Urge Assemblyman Bill Dodd to support SB32 & SB350!   Information on the proposed Yolo ban on fracking were available as well as a letter to Assemblyman Bill Dodd urging him to support two critical climate bills due for a vote in mid-August:

  • SB32 extending our CA carbon reduction bill, and
  • SB350 aiming for 50% lower car emissions, 50% greater building efficiency, and 50% more solar and wind-generated electricity  by 2030.

4.  Conclusion:

There is NO safe way to transport extreme tar sands and Bakken crude. Two years after Lac-Mégantic, oil trains keep exploding and carbon pollution keeps rising.  Oil trains are a disaster for our health, our safety, and our climate.

Given the unresolved dangers of crude oil transport by rail and the overload of carbon emissions already in the atmosphere, a more prudent path is to leave all extreme crude in the ground, transition to clean, renewable energy, and practice energy conservation in an effort to reverse climate change and live sustainably on a finite planet.

5.  Next oil train actions:

Powerpoint by CA Energy Commission: Read attached, a thorough and up-to-date powerpoint, to educate yourself on national and state oil and crude by rail issues in CA.  Excellent resource!

Santa Maria refinery in San Luis Obispo:  We are waiting for a hearing announcement where we can testify.

Valero Refinery in Benicia:  The revised DEIR will be released on Aug. 31 for a 45-day written public comment period.  Our letters will be crucial when the Planning commission and late the City council makes their decisions whether to finalize the EIR and permit Valero’s rail spur.

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    Davis, California: Brave the blast zone to make a point – Saturday, July 11

    Repost from The Davis Enterprise
    [Editor:  Details at CoolDavis and Yolano Climate Action.  – RS]

    Brave the blast zone to make a point

    By Lynne Nittler, July 08, 2015
    Lac Megantic
    Protesters in Portland carry placards bearing the names of 47 people who died two years ago when an oil train derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. Courtesy photo

    There is no safe way to transport extreme tar sands and Bakken crude oil. Two years after Lac-Mégantic, oil trains keep exploding and carbon pollution keeps rising. Oil trains are a disaster for our health, our safety and our climate.

    On Saturday, July 11, Davis residents will remember the 2013 oil derailment that took 47 lives in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. Davis faces the threat of a similar accident. Currently, at least one oil train per week passes through Davis headed to the Bay Area.

    Two more 100-car trains per day are planned for the near future for the Valero Refinery in Benicia and the Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo … unless citizens stop them.

    The ForestEthics map at www.Blast-Zone.org shows endangered homes and businesses along Second Street in Davis, including the police station, Carlton Plaza senior community and Rancho Yolo. The entire Davis downtown is vulnerable, along with parts of UC Davis campus and apartments complexes along Olive Drive.

    Saturday’s vigil and rally highlight public opposition to oil trains passing through Davis. Too many residents live in the oil train blast zone, the 1-mile evacuation zone recommended by safety officials in the case of an oil train derailment and fire. ForestEthics calculates that nationwide, 25 million Americans live in the blast zone.

    “My home is in the oil train blast zone,” says Frances Burke, a downtown resident and oil train activist. “I have to breathe the extra particulates in the air from each additional daily train. Meanwhile, the new federal regulations do little to protect me.

    “In the event of an accident, first responders can only evacuate people from fireballs that happen despite trains moving at slower speeds in the supposedly safer tank cars. Oil trains are too dangerous for communities.”

    Wearing fiery red, yellow and orange shirts, Davisites are invited to meet at the train station and walk through the Davis blast zone downtown to the Rotary Stage in Central Park.

    “Five times in the first five months of 2015 we’ve watched oil trains derail and explode into toxic fireballs,” said Elizabeth Lasensky of Yolo MoveOn, as she made her sign for Saturday’s event. “The Department of Transportation reported in July 2014 that we can expect 10 to 12 derailments a year! It’s only a matter of time before an oil train derails in a major urban area, and the railroads don’t carry sufficient liability for such a disaster!”

    After rousing songs by the Raging Grannies, Davis Mayor Dan Wolk will speak of the City Council’s resolution opposing oil by rail, available at http://citycouncil.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20140422/04B-Opposing-Oil-By-Rail.pdf followed by Councilman Lucas Frerichs, speaking about the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ nearly unanimous decision to confront the issue: http://www.sacog.org/calendar/2014/08/rail/pdf/2-Valero%20EIR%20Comments.pdf. SACOG is made up of 22 cities and six counties.

    At the state level, Sen. Lois Wolk will share the legislative response to the sudden surge of crude-by-rail transport into California, which is aimed at protecting the public as well as sensitive habitat and waterways.

    Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza and Damien Luzzo will focus on the extraction side of the issue in Yolo County. Luzzo offers his story about how he came to oppose fracking at http://tinyurl.com/CAFrackWars and the Pledge of Resistance at http://tinyurl.com/FrackingPledgeOfResistance.

    “With well over 100 pledges signed on and 500 visitors online, this fracking pledge of resistance is starting to take off,” Luzzo says of his plan to make California fracking-free. “My article explaining the origins of the pledge has attracted over 1,000 people. The word is definitely getting out there.”

    Information on oil trains and the proposed ban on fracking in Yolo County will be available at the Cool Davis booth at the Farmers Market in Central Park.

    “The truth is, we don’t need any of the extreme oil,” says Reeda Palmer of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis. “The explosive Bakken and the toxic tar sands crude that moves by rail is a small percent of total U.S. oil consumption.

    “As we move our economy to clean energy, we can’t allow oil companies to bring Bakken, tar sands and other fracked oil — the dirtiest, most dangerous sources of oil — onto the market to pollute the atmosphere when we have clean alternatives.”

    Given the unresolved dangers of crude oil transport by rail and the overload of carbon emissions already in the atmosphere, a more prudent path is to leave all extreme crude in the ground, transition to clean, renewable energy and practice energy conservation in an effort to live sustainably on a finite planet.

    — Lynne Nittler is a Davis resident, the founder of Yolano Climate Action Central and an active member of Cool Davis.

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      Davis Enterprise: Garamendi calls for greater Bakken oil-by-rail safety

      Repost from The Davis Enterprise
      [Editor:  Significant quote: “‘DOT began working on updated rules in April of 2012 and from 2006 to April of 2014, a total of 281 tank cars derailed in the U.S. and Canada, claiming 48 lives and releasing almost 5 million gallons of crude and ethanol,’ the letter reads.  ‘Serious crude-carrying train incidents are occurring once every seven weeks on average, and a DOT report predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing billions of dollars in damage and possibly costing hundreds of lives.'”   That said, Mayor Wolk joined the long list of officials who say they don’t want to STOP oil trains, only make them “safer.”  Good luck.  More photos here.  – RS]

      Garamendi calls for greater Bakken oil-by-rail safety

      By Dave Ryan, April 9, 2015
      Rail1W
      Davis Mayor Dan Wolk speaks at a news conference Wednesday organized by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, to promote the congressman’s legislation that aims to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude oil. As many as 100 tank cars filled with the volatile oil could come through Davis every day if a proposed Valero oil refinery expansion is OK’d. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

      Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, called for less volatile Bakken crude oil — which is transported across the country by rail — on Wednesday morning, using the backdrop of the Davis Amtrak station to drive his point home.

      Garamendi introduced the Bakken Crude Stabilization Act on March 26 in a bid to protect what he said are 16 million Americans living and working near railroad shipment lines. If approved, the bill will require lower vapor pressure for transported Bakken crude to reduce its volatility, a practice currently required in Texas and to some degree in North Dakota.

      An oil tanker rumbles past the Davis train depot at Second and H streets Wednesday morning, interrupting a news conference organized by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, to address oil-by-rail safety. Sue Cockrell/ Enterprise photo

      Vapors like propane and butane add to the unstable nature of Bakken crude during train derailments.

      On Wednesday, Garamendi and other government officials explained why requiring more safety for railroad tank cars is essential to communities along rail lines like Davis and Fairfield, should there be an explosion. As if on cue, freight trains carrying black tank cars rumbled by as Garamendi spoke.

      “You’d wipe out downtown Davis and possibly hundreds of people,” he said, adding that stripping out volatile vapors would prevent a fireball rising what he said was a hundred feet in the air.

      Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson said there are refineries and pipelines in his county, but also populations along rail lines and an environmentally sensitive marshland.

      “If we de-gas the oil, that is a huge thing for safety,” Thomson said. “We need to ask that legislation be passed. … We need to move this quickly.”

      Environmental groups say Bakken crude oil is transported through Yolo and Solano counties along Union Pacific Railroad lines that run through Davis, Dixon, Fairfield and Suisun City on their way to the Valero oil refinery in Benicia. A proposal is pending before the Benicia City Council that could increase the number of rail tank cars moving through those cities, increasing shipments to about 70,000 barrels of oil a day in two, 50-car-long shipments.

      So-called “up-rail” community groups are fighting the proposal, and local governments in Yolo and Solano counties are working for better safety and oversight of the Valero project, which is still in the environmental review process.

      Davis Mayor Dan Wolk said local agencies’ goal in the Valero project is not to stop commerce, but to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place.

      Meanwhile, at the state level, a warren of rules protecting rail commerce prohibit states and localities from enacting restrictions on rail traffic, leading to calls for the federal government to step in.

      However, laws protecting railroads, some more than a century old, ensure that railroads have a strong hand in approving any new regulations that the federal Department of Transportation or the Federal Railroad Administration may impose on their industry. Most regulations are created by consensus with the railroads.

      Garamendi said a legislative approach is the quickest way to get the railroads to implement safety standards.

      “Every day we delay the implementation of a stronger safety standard for the transport of Bakken crude oil by rail, lives and communities are at risk,” the congressman said in a prepared statement released at the news conference.

      “We need the federal government to step in and ensure that the vapor pressure of transported crude oil is lower, making it more stable and safer to transport. We also need to upgrade and ensure the maintenance of rail lines, tank cars, brake systems and our emergency response plans.”

      Getting railroads to help beef up local safety planning is a big part of what state and local governments are trying to wring out of the rail industry. One key demand is to get the railroads to disclose to emergency first responders what is inside their tank cars.

      In a March 3 letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation written by Garamendi and Congresswoman Doris Matsui, D- Sacramento, the pair said the need for safer train cars has long been documented and is overdue.

      “DOT began working on updated rules in April of 2012 and from 2006 to April of 2014, a total of 281 tank cars derailed in the U.S. and Canada, claiming 48 lives and releasing almost 5 million gallons of crude and ethanol,” the letter reads.

      “Serious crude-carrying train incidents are occurring once every seven weeks on average, and a DOT report predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing billions of dollars in damage and possibly costing hundreds of lives.”

      Asked Wednesday what the chances are of a railroad safety bill passing through a Republican-controlled Congress, Garamendi said “excellent,” evoking some chuckles from other government officials standing by.

       

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