Tag Archives: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Benicia City Council to consider findings for FINAL denial of Valero CBR

By Roger Straw, October 4, 2014

benicia_logoBenicia City staff released the AGENDA for the October 4 City Council meeting, including an important staff report, CONFIRMATION OF THE RESOLUTION TO DENY THE USE PERMIT FOR THE VALERO CRUDE BY RAIL PROJECT.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
At the September 20, 2016 City Council meeting, the Council denied the use permit for the Valero Crude By Rail project and requested a revised resolution be brought back for final approval at the October 4th Council meeting. Per the Council’s direction, the proposed resolution incorporates some General Plan policies as well as issues raised by the state Attorney General, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Caltrans.

The agenda also included the following important documents:

It will be an important Council meeting tonight. Plan to attend if you can – 7pm in Council Chambers, 250 East L Street, Benicia.

 

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Appeals Court Doesn’t Stop Crude Oil Rail Shipments Through Richmond CA

Repost from CBS San Francisco (5KPIX, 740AM, 106.9FM)

Appeals Court Doesn’t Stop Crude Oil Rail Shipments Through Richmond

July 19, 2016 9:22 PM
Protesters against fracked oil trains held a demonstration outside the Kinder-Morgan rail yard in Richmond on September 4, 2014. (CBS)

Protesters against fracked oil trains held a demonstration outside the Kinder-Morgan rail yard in Richmond on September 4, 2014. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A state appeals court upheld dismissal of a lawsuit in which environmentalists sought to challenge crude oil rail shipments through Richmond.

A trial judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit was upheld in court Tuesday in San Francisco. The court said Communities for a Better Environment, known as CBE, and other groups missed a state law’s six-month deadline for challenging a lack of environmental review for the shipments.

A three-judge panel said the California Environmental Quality Act didn’t allow an exception to the deadline even though the groups said they couldn’t have discovered the project sooner.

“Ultimately, CBE’s arguments about the proper balance between the interests of public participation and of timely litigation are better directed to the Legislature, not this court,” Court of Appeal Justice Jim Humes wrote for the court.

The panel unanimously upheld a similar ruling in which San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch dismissed the lawsuit in 2014.

The crude oil is carried by the Texas-based Kinder Morgan energy company in railroad tanker cars from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation to Kinder Morgan’s Richmond terminal, where it is transferred to tanker trucks.

The shale oil is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling.

The environmental groups contend that shale crude oil, which is lighter than other types of crude oil, is dangerous because it is more explosive in the event of a derailment. They also say fumes emitted during the oil transfers harm human health.

The groups sued the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in March 2014 after discovering that the agency had quietly issued a permit for the project in July 2013 without requiring an environmental impact report.

The permit allowed Kinder Morgan to change its previous ethanol facility to the crude oil facility.

In addition to CBE, the plaintiffs were the Natural Resources Defense Council, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Sierra Club. They were represented by the Earthjustice law firm.

They argued that a report should have been required under the CEQA law, while the air district and Kinder Morgan contended no report was needed because granting the permit was a ministerial rather than discretionary decision.

But the issue of whether there should have been an environmental report was never reached in court because Busch ruled, and the appeals court agreed, that the lawsuit was filed too late.

The appeals court said, “We acknowledge that if there were any situation in which it would be warranted to delay the triggering of a limitations period in the manner CBE urges, it would be one in which no public notice of the project was given and the project’s commencement was not readily apparent to the public.”

But the panel said that case law set by the California Supreme Court and other courts established that the Legislature made a “clear determination” that CEQA challenges must be filed within the deadline.

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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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