Tag Archives: Oakland CA

DAVIS ENTERPRISE: Area agencies oppose Valero oil train petition

Repost from the Davis Enterprise

Davis joins regional agencies in opposing Valero oil train petition

By Felicia Alvarez, July 10, 2016

In the latest addition to the turbulent saga of Valero Refining Company’s proposal to expand a crude oil-by-rail train route through the Sacramento-Davis region to a refinery in Benicia, the City of Davis, Yolo County, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments have submitted formal letters opposing the Valero’s latest moves to approve the project.

The local agencies are joined by a formidable coalition opposing Valero’s project, including State Attorney General Kamala Harris, the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, and a number of air quality management districts.

The letters oppose Valero’s most recent steps to push through the crude-by-rail proposal and expansion of their Benicia refinery.

Last February saw the Benicia Planning Commission unanimously vote down the project’s environmental impact report. Valero decided to take it to the federal level, petitioning the Surface Transportation board for a federal preemption [by] the railroads.

Preemption would allow the company to expand its operations to transport oil through Davis along Interstate 80 toward the refinery in Benicia. It would also include routes that travel to San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, and several other projects in Oregon and Washington.

The route of the most local concern would see 100-car trains travel through Old East Davis, downtown Davis, and the south end of UC Davis each day.

Last Friday, the City of Davis delivered its own letter to the Surface Transportation Board opposing Valero’s proposal. The city signed alongside Yolo County, Oakland, Berkeley and SACOG.

Fighting to maintain local control of planning and zoning management of the proposal in the interest of public safety, the letter states:

“Valero’s complaints do not actually pertain to rail operations at all. They pertain to the operations of oil refineries within California, refineries that wish, for their own financial benefits, to be exempted from compliance with state and local environmental and planning laws.”

The local agencies go on to argue that granting preemption is outside of the role of the board to rule on an oil refinery’s obligations.

The Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District decried Valero’s petition as well, drafting a letter alongside the Butte, Sutter, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta and Bay Area air quality management districts. 

The letter points to the project’s revised draft environmental impact report, which lists the additional air quality impacts that would be felt across multiple air districts if additional railcar trips were made across the region.

” … federal preemption prohibits the mitigation of project emissions either directly from locomotives or indirectly through the purchase of emission offsets,” the letter states, adding that this is what prompted the air quality districts to oppose the petition.

Yolo Solano AQMD’s letter goes on to echo the city’s argument that Valero is not a rail carrier, and therefore is not eligible to receive a preemption on the railroads from the Surface Transportation Board.

The Benicia City Council is slated to give the oil train proposal another hearing in September.

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    Climate Mobilization: Rally in Oakland Saturday, November 21

    Repost from NorCal Climate Mobilization

    Northern California Climate Mobilization web banner

    Join us in a Northern California
    mass mobilization in advance of the 2015
    UN Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21)

    Saturday Nov 21, 2015

    rain or shine!!

    10:30 am – Gather at Lake Merritt Amphitheatre
    12:00 noon – March
    1:00 pm – Rally at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza

    Meet at the Lake Merritt Amphitheatre (map)
    March to Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza (map)
    [march route map]

    RSVP on Facebook

    Check for shared rides or buses if you’re coming from afar!

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      National Education Association (NEA) Opposes California Oil-train Project

      Repost from The Center For Biological Diversity
      [Editor:  Significant paragraph: “Thirteen school boards and five teachers’ unions in California have publicly opposed the Phillips 66 project, including in Ventura, Martinez and Oakland. Last month both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers sent letters to county officials urging them to deny the project….”  See more below.  – RS]

      NEA Opposes California’s Phillips 66 Oil-train Project Over Risks to Students

      Dangerous Bomb Trains Would Threaten Hundreds of California Schools
      For Immediate Release, July 15, 2015

      WASHINGTON— Out of concern for the safety and wellbeing of students and teachers, the National Education Association today opposed the proposed Phillips 66 oil-train offloading facility in San Luis Obispo County. If approved the project would bring millions of gallons of hazardous crude oil nearly every day through highly populated areas near hundreds of schools.

      With nearly 3 million members in 50 states and the District of Columbia, NEA is the nation’s largest professional employee organization and union. Its Representative Assembly voted earlier this month to send a letter urging the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to reject the project permit.

      The NEA letter notes that at least 29 schools in San Luis Obispo County alone are close enough to the planned crude-by-rail route to suffer catastrophic consequences from a train derailment or an oil spill. “Please put student safety first,” the letter urges.

      “Our members are concerned for the safety, health and wellbeing of their students,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Hundreds of schools across California are within a mile of the potential ‘blast zone’ and could suffer catastrophic consequences in the event of a train derailment or oil spill.”

      The county’s planning commission is expected to vote on the project in the coming months.

      Thirteen school boards and five teachers’ unions in California have publicly opposed the Phillips 66 project, including in Ventura, Martinez and Oakland. Last month both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers sent letters to county officials urging them to deny the project, citing the high risk of train derailment and toxic diesel emissions, which are especially harmful to children.

      “Our schoolchildren at these schools are in extreme risk if there is a major oil-train accident,” said Kathleen Minck, 30-year elementary school teacher and member of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association, which sent a letter of opposition to the project last month. “Also, increasing air pollution from the trains will affect all our children with asthma, even in the absence of a major accident.”

      Nearly 20 local governments along the rail route affected by the Santa Maria Phillips 66 project have also submitted letters or passed resolutions against the project, including San Jose, Berkeley, Davis and Ventura County. More than 23,000 people from across California have also voiced opposition to the project.

      “Teachers across America want San Luis Obispo’s dangerous oil-train project stopped in its tracks,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “County officials must understand that approving this facility would endanger hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren across California and beyond. It’s critical not to put schools and communities in the path of these explosive bomb trains.”

      Background
      The nearly 3 million-member NEA is the largest professional employee organization and labor union in the country — representing public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers — with affiliate organizations representing 14,000 school communities in every state and the District of Columbia as well as educators working on military bases in the United States and abroad.

      In 2015 there have already been five major fiery oil-train derailments, including in West Virginia, Illinois and Ontario. In May the U.S. Department of Transportation released new rail tank car regulations, which will take 10 years to be phased in — and which still leave the public at severe risk from oil trains.

      Shipments of crude oil by rail have increased by 4,000 percent since 2008. More oil was spilled in train accidents in 2013 than in the previous 38 years combined, and in 2014 there were more oil train accidents than in any other year on record.

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