Tag Archives: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)

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“It is great news for residents of South Baltimore living near rail lines that Targa Terminals has now withdrawn its application for a crude oil terminal permit,” said Leah Kelly, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).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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    State denies permit for Baltimore crude oil terminal

    Email from John Kenney, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

    Great news out of Baltimore: Maryland puts proposed crude oil terminal on hold

    Great news out of Baltimore! Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) put the permits for the proposed crude oil terminal that we’ve been fighting on hold! MDE actually listened to our public comments saying that crude oil trains were way more dangerous than they previously thought, so they asked more questions for the company before issuing a final permit in the future. There will be plenty of opportunities to comment if the company decides to proceed with their plan to ship crude oil.

    For now, the expansion of crude by rail in Maryland is on hold.

    However, the fight isn’t over. Advocates throughout our region are continuing to organize. Crude oil still runs through Maryland, is still shipped out of Baltimore, and we still don’t have route transparency. Our goal is to continue pushing city and state legislators to take action, and will send updates along the way. Please see article [at right] for more details.

    Repost from the Baltimore Sun

    State denies permit for Baltimore crude oil terminal

    By Jeff Barker, June 3, 2015 8:24 P.M.
    Targa Resources
    Targa Terminals, located at 1955 Chesapeake Avenue along the Patapsco River, has applied for an air-quality permit with the Maryland Department of Environment to begin handling crude oil at the Baltimore facility. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

    The state Department of the Environment has denied, for now, a Houston-based company’s application to permit crude oil to be shipped through its port of Baltimore terminal in Fairfield — a proposal that nearby residents say poses a safety threat.

    The agency said it needs more information from Targa Resources, a Houston-based firm that handles and stores oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

    MDE “is not moving forward with any further review of the crude oil related application submitted in February until the department receives additional information from the company,” it said in a summary of its decision.

    A bill that would have required a study of crude oil rail shipments in Maryland, such as the one above in Cecil County, has stalled.

    CBR-in-Maryland
    A bill that would have required a study of crude oil rail shipments in Maryland, such as the one above in Cecil County, has stalled. (Photo by Amy Davis)

    “Before any decision is made on a crude oil related project at the Targa facility, there will be additional public review opportunities beyond the public meeting already held,” the agency said.

    If MDE had approved the permit, Targa would have become the second Fairfield-area terminal to handle crude oil shipments. Axeon Specialty Products, based in Stamford, Conn., ships tens of millions of gallons of crude oil through its nearby terminal just north of Interstate 895.

    Axeon brings crude oil in by rail from the west and ships it by barge to refineries in the Northeast. But even those shipments are relatively new. While it moved nearly 57 million gallons of crude through Baltimore in the fiscal year that ended June 30 and 53 million gallons the year before, it handled none the previous two years, according to data from MDE’s Oil Control Program.

    Substantially more crude oil passes through the state, much of it through Cecil County, but is not captured by the oil-control program because it is not unloaded.

    Shipments of domestic crude oil have boomed in recent years because of the surge in production from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. So much oil is coming out of the ground there and from the Canadian oil sands that a global glut has suppressed prices.

    Another derailment of a train carrying Bakken crude in Lynchburg, Va., in April 2014 caused an explosion and an evacuation and spilled thousands of gallons of crude into the James River, but no one was injured.

    Other incidents have occurred in West Virginia and North Dakota.

    While it denied the crude oil permit, MDE did grant Targa an air-quality permit May 26 allowing other products to be transported through the terminal. The permit will enable the company to offload fuel oils, noncrude oils and distillates from rail cars onto tanker trucks.

    At Targa’s request, MDE considered the crude oil request separately. The agency said in its decision that Targa asked it to split the application “in order to meet current customer demand for storage and transport of the other types of fuel oils and distillates.”

    Vincent DiCosimo, Targa’s senior vice president for petroleum logistics, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

    He has said previously that the company takes safety seriously and has the record to prove it.

    “Targa is just as interested in safety as you are,” he said in December at a public hearing hosted by the department and attended by about 25 residents and environmentalists.

    But residents have expressed concerns and environmental advocacy organizations said the new facility would increase the threat crude oil shipments pose to the Chesapeake Bay’s fragile ecosystem, since Targa would transfer the oil from trains onto barges for transport to East Coast refineries.

    The company purchased the Fairfield terminal, previously owned by Chevron, in 2011.

    “This decision by the Maryland Department of the Environment is good news,” said Leah Kelly, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, in a statement Wednesday.

    “Shipping crude oil through this terminal in Baltimore could have increased the risk of accidents and potentially explosions, such as have happened in Virginia, West Virginia and Canada,” she said. “Targa Terminals’ application for the crude oil permit was full of holes. MDE has said that it will not move forward with the crude oil permit unless the company provides more information about the air pollution that would be created by its operations.”