Tag Archives: Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter

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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    REUTERS: California opposition to oil-by-rail mounts

    Repost from Reuters

    California opposition to oil-by-rail mounts

    By Rory Carroll, Mar 19, 2015 3:03pm EDT

    (Reuters) – A chorus of local governments across California opposed to crude oil trains grew louder this week in light of recent derailments, with a total of 14 cities and towns now trying to block the trains from running through their communities.

    Five northern California cities – Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland, Martinez and Davis – have voiced their opposition to crude by rail in general. An additional nine communities specifically oppose a Phillips 66 project to enable its refinery in San Luis Obispo to unload crude-carrying trains.

    Fiery derailments in West Virginia, Illinois and Ontario in recent weeks have brought the issue back into the national spotlight. The most devastating crude by rail disaster, a July 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people, is mentioned in many of the opposition measures.

    San Luis Obispo County is weighing whether to approve the Phillips 66 project, which would use Union Pacific rail lines to bring five 80-car trains per week to the refinery, starting in 2016.

    That has prompted concern from communities along the company’s rail network, including densely populated cities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    “The opposition is growing exponentially,” said Jess Dervin-Ackerman of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter.

    On Monday the Bay Area city of San Leandro passed a resolution opposing the Phillips 66 project, noting that at least 20 schools are located in the “blast zone” along the projected route.

    Paso Robles, a city in San Luis Obispo County, could be the next to take a stand against the dangerous cargo. Its city council is expected to debate the topic at an upcoming meeting.

    While local governments lack the ability to stop the trains, which fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, they hope to put pressure on San Luis Obispo County officials.

    “Every one of the tank cars on these trains carries more flammable crude oil than any municipal fire department can fight. That’s why California cities and towns are saying no,” said Matt Krogh of environmental group ForestEthics.

    Phillips 66 said it has one of the most modern crude rail fleets in service and that every railcar used to transport crude oil in its fleet exceeds regulatory safety standards.

    “The proposed rail project is designed with safety as the top priority and with safety measures embedded in the project,” said spokesman Dennis Nuss.

    (Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Matthew Lewis)
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