Tag Archives: San Francisco Baykeeper

Bay Area activists celebrate WesPac withdrawal of oil terminal proposal

Repost from ForestEthics
[Editor:  Also check out ForestEthics’ blog post by Ethan Buckner, “Pittsburg Defeats WesPac: Biggest California Crude Oil Project Stopped in its Tracks.”  (Great photos.)  – RS]

WesPac Energy Withdraws Pittsburg, CA, Oil Terminal Proposal

Activists to attend the upcoming city council meeting at Pittsburg City Hall on Monday, December 14 at 7:00pm

By Eddie Scher, ForestEthics, Wednesday Dec 9, 2015
[Pittsburg, CA] On November 16, WesPac Energy formally withdrew its proposed 242,000 barrel-per-day oil storage and transfer facility in Pittsburg, California. The crude oil facility would have included a marine port for oil tankers, more than a dozen oil storage tanks, an oil train offloading terminal, and multiple pipelines to local refineries.

In 2014 WesPac agreed to remove the oil train component to the project due to mounting community pressure and a scathing letter from California Attorney General Kamala Harris, but still planned to move ahead with the tank farm, marine berth, and pipeline extensions.

To celebrate the victory local activists will attend the upcoming city council meeting at Pittsburg City Hall on Monday, December 14 at 7:00pm.

Members of the coalition of citizen organizations working to protect the people and environment of Pittsburg released the following statements:

“We knew that WesPac was not good for our community and having them as our neighbor would do nothing to make Pittsburg a better place to live” saysKalli Graham, co-founder of the Pittsburg Defense Council.  It was time for us to roll up our sleeves and take action. We had homes to protect and families to keep safe. We did everything we could to tell everyone who would listen that this project was wrong. We canvassed our neighborhoods, lobbied our city and county officials and educated our community on the dangers this project would have on our town. We organized a grassroots movement, created a non-profit organization and rallied our community into action. We stood together as neighbors to fight this project until we’d stalled it for so long that it was no longer viable. We took a stand against the biggest, dirty industry this planet has known so far and we WON!”

“The citizens of Pittsburg stood toe to toe with the oil industry, they did not blink, they did not flinch, and today they have won,” says Ethan Buckner, ForestEthics extreme oil campaigner. “Thanks to the leadership of Kalli Graham and the Pittsburg Defense Council, and thousands of Pittsburg residents, it is clear that oil trains, tankers, tank farms, and pipelines are not welcome here. Here’s a message to Phillips 66, Valero, and other oil companies with dangerous oil trains projects in the works: The people of California and across North America don’t want your extreme oil, we want clean energy and climate solutions.”

“The WesPac crude by rail project was clearly designed to import dirty Canadian tar sands to Bay Area refineries,” says Andrés Soto, Richmond organizer with Communities for a Better Environment. “This victory is not enough. To protect us from future dirty oil projects, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District must adopt strict limitations on refinery emissions now.

“Thanks to the people of Pittsburg for sending this clear signal to the City of Benicia and Valero that Valero’s dangerous crude by rail project is not only a bad idea, it is no longer economically viable,” says Katherine Black, organizer with Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community.

“WesPac’s own environmental review documents, inadequate as they were, showed that the project would harm this community and the environment by polluting the land, air, and water” says Jackie Prange, Staff Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council. WesPac made the right choice to give up now rather than face defeat in court.”

“I’ve often considered the WesPac project to be the Bay Area’s Keystone XL – a perfect example of new fossil fuel infrastructure that would enable the oil industry to grow,” says community organizer Martin Mackerel. I couldn’t be happier that we stopped this project from being built. I hope our victory inspires others to block all new fossil fuel infrastructure in their backyards. Together we can stop this industry from murdering humanity’s future.”

“WesPac’s dangerous and grandiose plans for a mega-oil terminal in Pittsburg have been thwarted not only by market forces—OPEC and faltering oil barrel prices—but by a force of nature commonly known as People Power, the combined efforts of nameless individuals driven not by profit motives but by fierce love of community and desire for ecological sanity,” says Shoshana Wechsler of the SunFlower Alliance.

“The WesPac oil storage facility would have posed significant pollution threats to San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Baykeeper is proud to have been part of the team that stopped WesPac, and we’ll continue our work to protect the Bay from the expansion of oil refining and oil transport in the Bay Area,” says Sejal Choksi, San Francisco Baykeeper.

“Pittsburg is a strong community, and one that determined that we were not going to allow the hazardous WesPac project to be placed in our backyard,” says Gregory Osorio of the Pittsburg Ethics Council. “Many people worked countless hours – first Lyana Monterrey who started the organizing in Pittsburg before the WesPac project was on ANYONE’s radar. To George Monterrey for his ‘fire’, and Danny Lopez, the graphics artist for the movement. The credit for this victory belongs to the nonprofit environmental groups such as Forest Ethics, NRDC, Sierra Club, and Sunflower Alliance, who all made enormous contributions. We wish to thank everyone who labored tirelessly to keep this potentially catastrophic project from being dumped in our backyard.”

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    Expert letters pouring in, critical of Valero Crude by Rail

    The following hugely significant letters were sent to the City of Benicia today, just ahead of its 5pm deadline for public comments on Valero’s Revised Draft EIR.

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      Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

      Press Release from Communities for a Better Environment and ForestEthics
      [Editor:  UPDATE… see later news coverage and photos on KRON4 TV News and a later report with names of those arrested.  – RS]

      Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

      Contact:

      Megan Zapanta, APEN, megan@apen4ej.org, 619-322-1696
      Jasmin Vargas, CBE, jasmin.vargas@cbecal.org, 323-807-3234
      Eddie Scher, ForestEthics, eddie@forestethics.org, 415-815-7027

      For Immediate Release: Monday, July 6, 2015. 7:00AM
      [Richmond, CA] Activists protesting the threat of oil trains were detained this morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge. The banner reads “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.” The railroad bridge, which runs between the RT680 bridges, crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valero, Tesoro, Shell and Chevron. The Benicia-Martinez bridge is identified by the rail industry and on the blast-zone.org map as the route for oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

      This action coincides with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train fire in Lac Megantic, Quebec, and the Stop Oil Trains week of action with more than 80 planned events opposing oil trains across the US and Canada. Climbers, who are risking arrest to drop the banner, are representing three groups: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and ForestEthics. Baykeeper also provided support for the action.

      The groups cite the threat of fatal accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains. Oil trains have derailed and exploded five times in 2015, including high-profile events in West Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota and Canada.

      “Richmond has been my home my entire life. My family, friends, and neighbors are here, and we refuse to live in fear of these bomb trains blowing up our neighborhoods, and we’re tired of living in the shadow of the Chevron Refinery and the oil industry,” said Laiseng Saechao, APEN Member and Summer of Our Power Fellow. “That’s why I’m speaking up, not just to revoke Kinder Morgan’s permit to bring oil trains into Richmond, but also to build community-led alternatives to dirty oil through the Summer of Our Power Campaign.”

      “We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director. “Communities for a Better Environment is working in communities challenging the worst cases of environmental racism in CA.”

      “I am risking arrest today because crude oil trains are too dangerous for the rails,” says Ethan Buckner, ForestEthics, California campaigner. “We don’t need this dirty crude oil and we can’t wait for the next oil train catastrophe to act. Our railways will play a huge part in our new, just clean energy economy, but oil trains have no part in that future.”

      On June 30 ForestEthics and CBE released the report: Crude Injustice on the Rails: Race and the Disparate Risk from Oil Trains in California. The report maps the threat to oil trains to environmental justice communities in California, including Oakland and Richmond.

      ##
      APEN advances environmental justice campaigns and policy with the leadership of low-income Asian Pacific American families in Richmond, Oakland, and across California. www.apen4ej.org

      CBE works to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low-income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. www.cbecal.org

      ForestEthics demands environmental responsibility from government and the biggest companies in the world. Visit Blast-Zone.org to see if you are one of the 25 million Americans who live in the dangerous one-mile oil train evacuation zone. www.ForestEthics.org

       

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        Refineries Plan To Ship Dirty Tar Sands Oil Into Bay Area; Fracked Crude By Rail Gets Too Pricey

        Repost from CBS SF Bay Area

        Refineries Plan To Ship Even Dirtier Tar Sands Oil Into Bay Area, Fracked Crude By Rail Gets Too Pricey

        Reporter Chrystin Ayers, April 27, 2015 11:53 PM

        SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s an unexpected consequence of the drop in oil prices. Trains carrying explosive fracked crude oil from North Dakota are no longer rolling through our neighborhoods. Crude by rail has become too expensive.

        Instead local refineries are turning to a cheaper alternative, that poses a new kind of danger.

        Sejal Choksi-Chugh with San Francisco Baykeeper can’t forget the day the tanker ship Cosco Busan crashed into a Bay Bridge tower, spewing 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay. “It was getting on boats it was getting on birds it was everywhere,” she said.

        But the environmentalist says that’s nothing compared to what could happen if there’s a spill of a new kind of cargo headed our way, called tar sands crude, the dirtiest crude on the planet. “We are looking at a product that sinks. Its very heavy,” she said.

        There is huge supply of tar sands crude in Alberta Canada, and it’s cheap. Since they can’t get North Dakota Bakken crude by rail, refineries here in the Bay Area are gearing up to bring the Alberta crude in by ship.

        “Today’s refineries are all designed to take ships in,” said energy consultant David Hackett. He says two thirds of the crude supplying Bay Area refineries already comes in on tankers, so adding tar sands to the mix makes sense.

        “The California refineries are designed to process crude that is heavy and dense, and relatively high in sulfur. So the Canadian tar sands is the kind of quality that will fit in to the California refineries fairly well,” Hackett said.

        The plan is to expand an existing pipeline called Transmountain, that runs from Alberta to Vancouver, and  retrofit a terminal in Vancouver that will transfer the tar sands from pipeline to ship. Then tankers could move it down the coast to refineries in the bay.

        Projected route of crude oil from Alberta tar sands to the Bay Area. (CBS)

        Hackett predicts tankers full of tar sands crude could be coming into the San Francisco Bay in large numbers by 2018, a delivery route he believes is much safer than trains. “There are significant safety standards and operating practices that are involved,” he said.

        But with all the extra ship traffic accidents are more likely to happen. Ande even one even one in the bay could be devastating.  A spill on the Kalamazoo river in Michigan 5 years ago cost $1 billion to mop up, the costliest cleanup in U.S. history. That’s because tar sands crude is so dense, it sinks.

        “It’s going to instantaneously cover the bottom of the bay which will almost automatically kill everything that is on the bay floor,” said Sejal. “We shouldn’t even be contemplating having those vessels come in to the bay until we are ready to deal with a spill,” she said.

        Environmentalists in Canada are mounting strong opposition to the expansion of the Transmountain pipeline, but Hackett says since there’s already an existing route, the project will likely get the green light.

        And by the way – most of the tar sands that will be headed down the Pacific coast will actually be exported to Asia.

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