Tag Archives: Environmental Impacts

Don’t lift ban on export of U.S. oil

Repost from the Asbury Park Press

MEHRHOFF: Don’t lift ban on export of U.S. oil

OPINION | Jessie Mehrhoff, November 12, 2015 11:21 a.m. EST
ThinkstockPhotos-495757792
(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It’s the fundamental connection between environmental degradation and human health that has me concerned about the prospect of Congress lifting the U.S. oil export ban, which will worsen climate change and threaten our communities with toxic spills.

The list of risks climate change poses to human health is long. Increased temperatures will spread tropical diseases to new latitudes. Heat waves will cause more deaths across the world. Warmer temperatures will lead to more health-threatening smog and decrease crop yields. Detailing these impacts and more in 2009, “The Lancet,” one of the world’s most respected medical journals, labeled climate change ‘the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”

These aren’t just future consequences, to be experienced on the other side of the globe. In New Jersey, we still face the impacts of superstorm Sandy three years later. Climate scientists at Rutgers University predict even more extreme weather if climate change goes unchecked.

In addition to these consequences, the American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air report card has given Monmouth County an “F” for the number of high-ozone level days, and finds more than 56,000 people in the county suffer from asthma. Climate change is only going to make numbers such as this climb as our air quality worsens.

To avoid global warming’s most devastating health impacts, we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and transition to pollution-free, renewable energy. Lifting our decades-old ban on the export of U.S.-produced oil represents the opposite course.

If the oil companies have a larger distribution market for oil produced in the U.S., they will drill more — upward of another 3.3 million barrels per day for the next 20 years, by some General Accounting Office estimates. Even if only a fraction of all this extra oil is burned, global warming pollution could still increase 22 million metric tons per year — the equivalent of five average-sized coal power plants.

In addition to worsening climate change, there’s the public health threat of transporting additional oil across the country. While most crude oil is shipped around the U.S. by pipeline, shipments by rail have been increasing. To keep up with increased demand, oil trains have grown larger and tow more tanker cars than ever before.

Currently, trains carrying highly flammable crude oil travel through 11 of the 21 counties in New Jersey —Mercer, Middlesex, Gloucester, Somerset, Hunterdon, Bergen, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Union and Warren — en route to refineries. These oil trains are an accident waiting to happen, and have spurred trainings across the state where firefighters, police and other emergency responders have prepared courses of action in an oil derailment emergency.

The fear of oil train accidents — where toxic crude oil is spilled into our communities — is not hyperbole. Accidents have been on the rise, with more oil accidentally dumped into our environment in 2013 alone than during the previous three decades combined.

In 2015, we’ve already seen three major oil train accidents. In Mount Carbon, West Virginia, a rail oil spill led to evacuations and a governor-declared state of emergency. In Galena, Illinois, a spill threatened to pollute the Mississippi River. A spill in Heimdal, North Dakota, forced the evacuation of a town.

If we are to prevent these accidents from taking place in the 11 New Jersey counties through which these trains travel, we must work to reduce the amount of oil these trains carry. Transporting the increased oil we would produce domestically if the oil export ban were lifted could require enough trains to span the country from Los Angeles to Boston seven times over.

Increasing our nation’s crude oil drilling and transportation by lifting our decades’ old ban on exports leads to more risk, not less. And the inconvenient truth of lifting the oil export ban means more drilling, more global warming pollution, and more threats to public health.

There is a way around lifting the oil export ban in the first place. President Obama is against lifting the ban, and the measure only narrowly cleared a Senate committee earlier in the month. That’s why we need Sen. Cory Booker to join Sen. Bob Menendez in standing strong against the oil industry and to vote to keep the ban in place — for the sake of the environment and public health.

Jessie Mehrhoff is lead organizer with Environment New Jersey, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.
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CREDO Action generates over 1,800 letters opposing Valero Crude by Rail

Repost from CREDO Action
[Editor:  The following call to action arrived in thousands of email inboxes on October 27, 2015.  The response was huge – so far over 1800 CREDO-generated letters have been sent to the City of Benicia (in the first 24 hours).   The link here will take you to the CREDO Action page.  Letters deadline is 5pm on Friday, October 30, 2015.  – RS]

Tell the Benicia City Council: Block Valero’s dangerous oil trains terminal

Tell the Benicia City Council: Block Valero's dangerous oil trains terminal.

Oil giant Valero is trying to build a massive oil trains terminal at its refinery in Benicia.

Two 50-car oil trains per day would carry toxic fracked oil and tar sands across California to the refinery, passing through Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Fairfield and other cities before reaching their destination in Benicia.¹

If approved by the Benicia City Council, the terminal would exacerbate local air pollution in Benicia and in communities along the rail route, expose those communities to the catastrophic danger of an oil train derailment and explosion, and fuel the climate crisis by encouraging fracking and tar sands extraction.

The Benicia City Council is accepting public comments on the project until 5pm on Friday, October 30, 2015. Local opposition has already delayed the project once – we need to speak out right now and demand that the city council block Valero’s dangerous oil terminal.²

Tell the Benicia City Council: Block Valero’s dangerous oil trains terminal. Submit a public comment directly to the city council.

The number of crude by rail accidents in recent years has skyrocketed. In addition to the deadly oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec in July 2013, which killed 47 people, there have been nine major oil train explosions in the United States since the start of 2013.

In addition to the threat of deadly train derailments and explosions, Valero’s plan would worsen air quality for communities all along the rail line. In Benicia, shipping more fracked oil and tar sands to Valero’s refinery would only increase toxic refinery pollution. Further, oil trains leak dangerous chemicals, creating a toxic plume around rail lines up and down the rail route.³

With no end in sight to the record drought threatening California, there is simply no excuse for green-lighting any fossil fuel infrastructure project that will encourage the extraction of more dirty fracked oil and tar sands and exacerbating climate change.

Valero will get its way if we remain silent. Submit a public comment urging the Benicia City Council to reject Valero’s crude by rail project.

¹ Jaxon Van Derbeken, “Benicia sees cash in crude oil; neighbors see catastrophe,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 2014
² Tony Bizjak, “Benicia plans more study of crude-oil train impacts,” Sacramento Bee, February 3, 2015
³ Diane Bailey, “Valero’s Promise to Benicia: We’ll only have an environmental disaster once every 111 years,” NRDC Switchboard, September 17, 2014

Send an email.

Tell the Benicia City Council:

Valero’s outrageous proposal to build an oil trains terminal at its refinery in Benicia threatens the health and safety of people all along the rail route.

If approved by the Benicia City Council, the terminal would exacerbate local air pollution in Benicia and in communities along the rail route, expose those communities to the catastrophic danger of an oil train derailment and explosion, and fuel the climate crisis by encouraging fracking and tar sands extraction.

I urge the Planning Commission and the City Council to reject Valero’s dangerous plan.

Click here to send this email.

Tell the Benicia City Council: Block Valero's dangerous oil trains terminal.

Oil giant Valero is trying to build a massive oil trains terminal at its refinery in Benicia.

Two 50-car oil trains per day would carry toxic fracked oil and tar sands across California to the refinery, passing through Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Fairfield and other cities before reaching their destination in Benicia.¹

If approved by the Benicia City Council, the terminal would exacerbate local air pollution in Benicia and in communities along the rail route, expose those communities to the catastrophic danger of an oil train derailment and explosion, and fuel the climate crisis by encouraging fracking and tar sands extraction.

The Benicia City Council is accepting public comments on the project until Friday. Local opposition has already delayed the project once – we need to speak out right now and demand that the city council block Valero’s dangerous oil terminal.²

Tell the Benicia City Council: Block Valero’s dangerous oil trains terminal. Submit a public comment directly to the city council.

The number of crude by rail accidents in recent years has skyrocketed. In addition to the deadly oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec in July 2013, which killed 47 people, there have been nine major oil train explosions in the United States since the start of 2013.

In addition to the threat of deadly train derailments and explosions, Valero’s plan would worsen air quality for communities all along the rail line. In Benicia, shipping more fracked oil and tar sands to Valero’s refinery would only increase toxic refinery pollution. Further, oil trains leak dangerous chemicals, creating a toxic plume around rail lines up and down the rail route.³

With no end in sight to the record drought threatening California, there is simply no excuse for green-lighting any fossil fuel infrastructure project that will encourage the extraction of more dirty fracked oil and tar sands and exacerbating climate change.

Valero will get its way if we remain silent. Submit a public comment urging the Benicia City Council to reject Valero’s crude by rail project.

¹ Jaxon Van Derbeken, “Benicia sees cash in crude oil; neighbors see catastrophe,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 2014
² Tony Bizjak, “Benicia plans more study of crude-oil train impacts,” Sacramento Bee, February 3, 2015
³ Diane Bailey, “Valero’s Promise to Benicia: We’ll only have an environmental disaster once every 111 years,” NRDC Switchboard, September 17, 2014

 

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CALL TO ACTION: Public Comment on Revised DEIR for Valero Crude By Rail

Repost from Stop Crude By Rail Facebook Event (by Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, SafeBenicia.org)

HearingCALLTOACTION2015-09-29
Click on the image to go to the Facebook event page. Let them know if you plan to attend.

CALL TO ACTION: Public Comment on
Revised DEIR for Valero Crude By Rail
~ Planning Commission Hearing ~
Tuesday, September 29, at 5:30pm
Benicia City Council Chambers

The City of Benicia Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR) for a proposed crude-by-rail project. The proposed project would allow the Benicia Valero Refinery to receive up to 70,000 barrels per day of its crude by rail. The project involves installation of a new railcar unloading rack, rail track spurs, pumps, pipeline and other infrastructure at the refinery.

The environmental analysis conducted to date indicates that there would be significant and unavoidable impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous materials and biological resources.

Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and many other governmental agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals have also determined that there are huge safety risks, not only for Benicia, but for all communities and the environment along the entire uprail line from the extraction point to it’s destination in Benicia.

Please join us to voice your concerns about the added environmental impacts and safety risks that this project will add, by attending the first hearing on the RDEIR.

If you have any questions on this hearing, please contact our spokesperson Andrés Soto by calling him at (707) 742-3597 or emailing us at info@safebenicia.org.

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