Tag Archives: Pittsburg CA

Oil Train Victory in California’s East Bay – Wespac Application Withdrawn

PittsburgDC.org

Repost from the Contra Costa Times
[Editor:  A huge victory for our friends across the water!  Congratulations to the Pittsburg Defense Council and everyone who worked so hard to STOP WesPac.  See also: Reuters coverage.  – RS]

Pittsburg: Proposed WesPac oil-by-rail shipping terminal is dead

By Sam Richards, 12/09/2015 06:37:16 AM PST

PITTSBURG — Plans to convert a moribund PG&E tank farm into a regional oil storage facility appear dead after the company proposing the project backed out, according to a city report.

WesPac Midstream LLC’s proposed Pittsburg Terminal Project had been in development on and off for the past four years.

WesPac on Nov. 16 “submitted a formal request to withdraw their application completely and terminate all work on the project,” according to the city report released Tuesday afternoon. No explanation was given for the Houston-based company’s decision.

In a voice mail, City Manager Joe Sbranti said Tuesday, “They didn’t give us a reason; they just withdrew it.”

Art Diefenbach, WesPac’s Pittsburg project manager, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

In April, WesPac eliminated a proposed element of its project, withdrawing plans for loading as many as five 104-car oil trainloads a week at the Pittsburg facility. Diefenbach said at the time that the “regulatory environment” surrounding rail shipments of crude oil made it impractical to launch such trains.

The city report made no mention of oil prices, or whether they had an effect on WesPac’s decision. But at $37.51 a barrel Tuesday, prices are at their lowest since February 2009, down from almost $108 a barrel on June 14. The low oil prices have rocked the stock markets in recent days.

He also said then that protests against the crude oil trains, locally and nationally, factored in to the decision to abandon the rail proposal.

The old tanks are less than a half-mile from hundreds of houses and apartments on West 10th Street and in the downtown area between Eighth Street and the waterfront.

The project drew staunch opposition from various area environmentalists, as well as the Pittsburg Defense Council group. Reasons for opposition were myriad, critics said, ranging from the threat of an explosion at the terminal to prospective ground pollution issues to the vapors from the storage tanks.

Kalli Graham said the local group Pittsburg Defense Council, to which she belongs, had been fighting the oil terminal proposal since its inception, collecting more than 5,000 signatures against it in the process and even getting state Attorney General Kamala Harris to weigh in against it.

“WesPac had a big fight on its hands; there is pretty much no one in Pittsburg that wanted this,” said Graham, whose group was spreading the news among its followers Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t have to be worried about it anymore.”

City Council members Pete Longmire and Will Casey said Tuesday the council never received enough details about the project to make informed decisions on the worth of the project; even after four years of start-and-stop proposals, it was still early in the planning process.

“I was neutral on the project,” Longmire said. “I know this (WesPac) decision will make a lot of people in our city happy. But there are people in our city who wanted it to come, with the jobs it would have provided.

“The knife cuts both ways,” Longmire said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Andrés Soto letter: Not fooled by Big Oil and Big Rail

Letter to the editor, The Benicia Herald
[Editor: Note that letters do not appear in the online edition of the Benicia Herald.  Andrés Soto lives in Benicia and is well-known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for his environmental justice advocacy and his mastery of the saxophone.  I particularly like Andrés’ focus on 19th century historical context.  – RS]

Not fooled by Big Oil and Big Rail

By Andrés Soto, July 23, 2015

Dear Editor:

Andres Soto
Andrés Soto

The recent phenomenon of transporting dangerous, volatile Bakken Crude by rail has created an opportunity for the American people to learn the true motives of Big Oil and Big Rail and what we as impacted communities can do about it.

Continuing derailments, explosions, fires and evacuations have shined the light on the Profit At Any Cost attitude of Big Oil and Big Rail. These industries grew up together in the late 19th century and led to some of the most egregious periods of income inequality, corruption and social conflict in US history.

Now these industries are asking us to trust them and allow them to bring Bomb Trains through our communities, putting our town’s economic viability at risk for a short-term economic gain. Exploding trains all over North America tell us a different story and we are not fooled.

Currently, the Valero Crude By Rail Project and the Phillips 66 San Luis Obispo Crude By Rail Project both put our town at risk for a catastrophe. Communities all over the country are standing up to oppose this high risk venture by Big Oil and Big Rail. Recently, the WesPAC Crude By Rail Project in Pittsburg, California removed the rail part of the project to make it a straight pipeline project.

Fracked Bakken Crude and strip mined Alberta Tar Sands Crude are just two of the Extreme Extracted Crude strategies by Big Oil to bring oil to market that would be better left in the ground. An intelligent global cooling plan to save our planet for future generations and all species requires the we leave the oil beneath the soil!.

Valero has already admitted it can and is bringing Extreme Crude in by barge to the Port of Benicia, thus it does not need the Valero Crude By Rail Project to be profitable. Therefore, it begs the question: Why would we, the people of Benicia, allow this project to proceed when it is just too dangerous?

Global warming is going to cause significant parts of Benicia to be underwater. Shouldn’t we be working on preventing that, rather than trying find ways to contribute to the problem?

We are the people of Benicia and our voices need to be heard! The Benicia Planning Commission and the Benicia City Council have a responsibility to listen to us and do what is in the best interests of ALL Benicians. Stop Valero’s Dangerous Crude By rail Project!!!

Andrés Soto
Benicia, CA

Packed house for WESPAC scoping meeting in Pittsburg CA

From an email by Pittsburg Defense Council

Wow! What a turn-out!

From: Pittsburg Defense Council
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:00 PM

A massive THANK YOU! to everyone who attended the Scoping Meeting at Pittsburg City Hall yesterday evening. The room was packed and the meeting ran for more than two hours, with the public comment period taking up most of that time.

All of the speakers brought articulate and well-researched comments and questions, and the atmosphere was one of respect and consideration. We were all incredibly impressed and honored to be in such great company.

The next step is to make sure all of our questions about the environmental impact of the proposed WesPac project are considered in the report analysis. The only way to do this is to write a public comments letter – you can email it or send it ‘snail mail.’  …MORE (Including guidelines for letter writing)

Pittsburg CA: Suit claims EPA failed to investigate

Repost from the Contra Costa Times

Pittsburg: Suit claims EPA failed to investigate complaints of environmental discrimination

By Bay City News Service, 07/21/2015 09:43:40 AM PDT

PITTSBURG – A consortium of environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to investigate complaints of discrimination in the placement of power plants or hazardous waste dumps in various locations across the country, including two power plants in Pittsburg.

The EPA has 180 days to respond to the complaints, but according to the suit, which was filed on July 15, the federal regulator has not responded to the complaints in 10 to 20 years in some cases.

The suit includes allegations about facilities in Michigan, Texas, New Mexico, Alabama and California.

In Pittsburg, the suit alleges that the local regulatory agencies — the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission — discriminated against residents by locating two power plants in an already environmentally over-burdened area, according to Marianne Engelman Lado, a lawyer with Earthjustice, which is representing the plaintiffs.

“This is in a community where people have high rates of asthma or cancer and they were concerned that these plants would add to that,” Engelman Lado said.

Californians for Renewable Energy, or CARE, filed a complaint with the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights in April 2000 charging the local agencies discriminated against the predominantly nonwhite and low-income residents by failing to consider the additional environmental burden of the two new plants, the complaint alleges.

Permitting for the plants, the Los Medanos Energy Center LLC and Delta Energy Center, continued and the plants were approved and went online in 2001 and 2002, respectively, according to the complaint. The EPA accepted the complaint in December 2001 but has yet to conduct an investigation into the allegations, despite attempts in 2006 and 2009 by CARE to prompt the federal agency to respond, the complaint alleges.

In June 2002, the EPA classified Los Medanos Energy Center as being in “significant violation” of the Clean Air Act and over the last five years the facility has had to pay over $3,000 in fines for violating the act, according to the complaint.

In the meantime, residents have been suffering the consequences, Engelman Lado said.

“The plants are still standing and they’re polluting,” she said. “They’re emitting toxins and the community is living with that everyday.”

Engelman Lado said it’s clear the EPA has violated the law, and she’s hoping the lawsuit will result in the EPA completing their investigation.

Engelman Lado added she’s confident that when the EPA does complete the investigation, it will make findings of discrimination.

“We would hope, whether through a court order or by sitting down at the table, we could bring resources to bear to say, ‘What can we do to help these communities who are suffering from a lack of infrastructure or resources,'” she said.

That could take the form of more monitoring, infrastructure to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the power plants, or more extensive buffers between the community and the plants.

A representative from the EPA did not return a request for comment.