Tag Archives: Forest Ethics

LETTER OF OPPOSITION: Five environmental attorneys and others

By Roger Straw, March 31, 2016

On March 31, five environmental attorneys and a host of experts and others (including Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community) sent the Benicia City Council this strong 3-page letter of opposition to Valero’s oil trains proposal.  (For a much longer download, see the Letter with Attachments [13 MB, 214 pages].)

Attorney signatories:

    • Jackie Prange, Staff Attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council;
    • Roger Lin, Staff Attorney for Communities for a Better Environment;
    • George Torgun, Managing Attorney for San Francisco Baykeeper;
    • Clare Lakewood, Staff Attorney for Center for Biological Diversity;
    • Elly Benson, Staff Attorney for Sierra Club.

Others signing the letter:

    • Ethan Buckner, ForestEthics;
    • Katherine Black, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community;
    • Janet Johnson, Richmond Progressive Alliance;
    • David McCoard, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter;
    • Jessica Hendricks, Global Community Monitor;
    • Colin Miller, Bay Localize;
    • Denny Larson, Community Science Institute;
    • Nancy Rieser, Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment;
    • Steve Nadel, Sunflower Alliance;
    • Kalli Graham, Pittsburg Defense Council;
    • Richard Gray, 350 Bay Area and 350 Marin;
    • Bradley Angel, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice;
    • Sandy Saeturn, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

SIGNIFICANT EXCERPT:

The City Council can, and must, uphold the Planning Commission’s unanimous decision to deny the use permit for the Valero crude-by-rail project. Federal law does not preempt the City from denying the permit for this project. Furthermore, the City should not tolerate Valero’ s delay tactic of seeking a declaratory order from the Surface Transportation Board (STB). As explained below, the STB does not have jurisdiction over this project and will almost certainly decline to hear Valero’ s petition for the very same reason that preemption does not apply. Finally, even if preemption were to apply here, the project’s on-site impacts, especially the increases in refinery pollution, require the City to deny the permit.

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    New investigative report on neglect of rail bridges

    Repost from Forest Ethics

    New Investigative Report Documents Threat from Oil Trains on Nation’s Neglected Rail Infrastructure

    Investigative Report: DEADLY CROSSING: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains

    With a 5,000% increase in oil train traffic, Waterkeepers across the U.S. identify significant areas of concern with 114 railway bridges along known and potential routes of explosive oil trains

    Tina Posterli, and Eddie Scher, Tuesday Nov 10, 2015

    Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, Riverkeeper and a national network of Waterkeeper organizations released a new investigative report today called DEADLY CROSSING: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains exploring the condition of our nation’s rail infrastructure and how it is being stressed by oil train traffic. From July to September 2015, Waterkeepers from across the country documented potential deficiencies of 250 railway bridges in 15 states along known and potential routes of explosive oil trains, capturing the state of this often neglected infrastructure in their communities.

    The Waterkeepers identified areas of serious concern on 114 bridges, nearly half of those observed. Photos and video footage of the bridges inspected show signs of significant stress and decay, such as rotted, cracked, or crumbling foundations, and loose or broken beams. Waterkeepers were also present when crude oil trains passed and observed flexing, slumping and vibrations that crumbled concrete.

    “Waterkeepers boarded their patrol boats to uncover what is happening to the structural integrity of our nation’s railway bridges, a responsibility our federal government has shirked,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “People deserve to know the state of this infrastructure and the risks oil trains pose as they rumble through our communities.”

    This effort was initiated out of concern for the threat posed by the 5,000 percent increase in oil train traffic since 2008. Oil train traffic increases both the strain in rail infrastructure, as well as the likelihood of a rail bridge defect leading to an oil train derailment, spill, explosion and fire.

    “Half the bridges we looked at have potentially serious safety problems,” says Matt Krogh, ForestEthics extreme oil campaign director. “There are 100,000 rail bridges in the U.S. – any one of them could be the next deadly crossing. Oil trains are rolling over crumbling bridges and we can’t wait for the next derailment, spill, and explosion to act.”

    A review of rail bridge safety standards revealed that the federal government cedes authority and oversight of inspections and repairs to railway bridge owners. Overly broad federal law, lax regulations, and dangerously inadequate inspections and oversight compound the threat from oil trains. The 2008 federal law and subsequent Department of Transportation standards regulating rail bridge safety leaves responsibility for determining load limits, safety inspections, and maintenance with rail bridge owners.

    “Do truckers get to inspect their own trucks? Do you get to inspect your own car? Of course not. So it’s insane, and completely unacceptable, that the rail industry gets to inspect its own infrastructure while moving cargo that is of such enormous risk to American citizens and the environment,” said Riverkeeper Boat Captain John Lipscomb.

    Oil trains directly threaten the life and safety of 25 million Americans living inside the 1 mile evacuation blast zone in the case of an oil train fire, and the drinking water supplies for tens of millions more, says the report. The groups are calling for the federal government and rail industry to immediately inspect all rail bridges, share safety information with emergency responders and the public, and stop oil train traffic on any bridge with known safety problems.

    Read Deadly Crossing.

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      2015 Stop Oil Trains Week of Action Roundup

      Repost from ForestEthics
      [Editor:  Nice summary here.  Lots more photos and details at ForestEthics.org and on Facebook and Flicker.  ALSO, see excellent coverage onTar Sands Solutions Network: 100 Actions, 5,000 people: Biggest oil trains protest in history.  – RS]

      2015 Stop Oil Trains Week of Action Roundup

      'Lions Park, Mount Vernon.  July 9, 2015. (Photo/Wendelin Dunlap) Images provided by Alex Ramel'
      Lions Park, Mount Vernon. July 9, 2015. (Photo/Wendelin Dunlap) Images provided by Alex Ramel — at Lions Park.

      The 2015 Stop Oil Trains week of action marked the second anniversary of the fatal Lac-Mégantic, Quebec oil train disaster. This year 5,000 citizens gathered in 100 cities and towns across the US and Canada to demand a ban on these dirty, exploding trains.

      To see ALL pictures from the week of action check out our Flickr Group – http://bit.ly/Flickr_StopOilTrain

      Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refiney project protest. San Luis Obispo, CA. July 11, 2015. Keynote speakers: San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx; Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (Photo/Andrew Christie) — in San Luis Obispo, California.

      Highlights

      ForestEthics's photo.
      In Ventura, California.

      Highlights from the week of action are too numerous to count. National press coverage included pieces in MSNBCDemocracy NowEcoWatch, The Hill, AP, & VICE – alongside dozens upon dozens of local print, TV, and radio pieces.

      In Lac-Mégantic, the week started with a beautiful, bold, and somber march that drew hundreds of people to the tracks. The week continued with a banner hang and guerrilla projection actions in California, powerful infrastructure blockades in New York and Oregon, creative rallies in Albany, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Richmond (VA), Minneapolis, and DC – just to name a few. Then this weekend, action picked up with a jazz funeral procession in Philadelphia and a die-in in Seattle. On Saturday, thousands attended coordinated protests across California – including rallies that drew hundreds each in San Luis Obispo, Richmond, Los Angeles and San Jose – to call on decision makers across the state to reject new oil train infrastructure proposals and shut down existing operations. There are countless more to name, and every action had an impact, from gatherings of 5 to 500. No matter where or how you participated, you were a part of something extraordinary.

      'Oil Train Die In.  As the gates to Safeco Field opened for the Mariners vs. Angels game, thousands of fans streamed past a rally held near Century Link Field in protest of oil trains that pass the stadiums on a daily basis. Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant spoke at the rally and joined the demonstration as they marched from Century Link to Safeco in a silent procession holding photos and names of the 47 people who died in Lac-Mégantic Quebec during an oil train explosion in 2013. Safeco Field and Century Link Field both sit within 200 yards of a rail line that sees several trains pulling the same Baaken Crude that exploded in Lac-Mégantic. The same rails carry Baaken laden trains through a tunnel that sit directly beneath downtown Seattle, including the King County Administration Building, Benaroya Hall, and Pike Place Market, not to mention several hotels and businesses and the thousands of people downtown at any given moment. Write Up on The Dignity Virus thedignityvirus.com/2015/07/11/activists-stage-die-in-in-... (Photo/Jeff Snyder) Images provided by Carlo Voli.'
      OIL TRAIN DIE IN – As the gates to Safeco Field opened for the Mariners vs. Angels game, thousands of fans streamed past a rally held near Century Link Field in protest of oil trains that pass the stadiums on a daily basis. Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant spoke at the rally and joined the demonstration as they marched from Century Link to Safeco in a silent procession holding photos and names of the 47 people who died in Lac-Mégantic Quebec during an oil train explosion in 2013…. Safeco Field and Century Link Field both sit within 200 yards of a rail line that sees several trains pulling the same Baaken Crude that exploded in Lac-Mégantic. The same rails carry Baaken laden trains through a tunnel that sit directly beneath downtown Seattle, including the King County Administration Building, Benaroya Hall, and Pike Place Market, not to mention several hotels and businesses and the thousands of people downtown at any given moment. Write Up on The Dignity Virus thedignityvirus.com/2015/07/11/activists-stage-die-in-in-… (Photo/Jeff Snyder) Images provided by Carlo Voli.’
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