Category Archives: Benicia CA

Valero Draft EIR now available for download

BREAKING NEWS …

Valero Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) now available for download

June 17, 2014, 8:30am

The City of Benicia posted the downloadable version of the Valero Crude By Rail Draft EIR this morning.  The print and digital copies will be made available at the Benicia Planning Department later in the day.

The DEIR can also be downloaded here on The Benicia Independent.

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    Martinez to Benicia: Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

    Repost from the East Bay Express
    [Editor: Many thanks to the East Bay Express for excellent coverage of this colorful and important event (below).  Benicia old timers were heard to say that sleepy little Benicia has probably NEVER seen a protest demonstration like this.  Check out two facebook pages for great photos of the day: facebook.com/stopcrudebyrail AND facebook.com/events/220829548127114/?ref=22.  – RS]

    East Bay Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

    Jean Tepperman —  Mon, May 19, 2014

    Accompanied by a four-kayak flotilla and a fifth-generation Martinez resident on horseback, about one hundred environmental activists marched seven miles from Martinez to Benicia on Saturday to protest the local toxic pollution and global climate impact of Bay Area oil refineries. The march was spearheaded by a Bay Area group affiliated with Idle No More, an organization of Canadian First Nations people fighting development of the tar sands oil fields in Alberta and other environmentally destructive projects on their traditional lands.

    refinery_walk1_5-17.jpeg

    Kelly Johnson

    Specific targets of the protest were proposed expansion projects at the Chevron (Richmond), Valero (Benicia), and Phillips 66 (Rodeo) refineries, a crude oil transportation terminal in Pittsburg planned by energy infrastructure company WesPac, and the major investment of Shell (Martinez) in the Canadian tar sands mines. The Saturday march was the second of four planned Refinery Corridor Healing Walks — the first, from Pittsburg to Martinez, was held in April, and future walks are planned for June and July, ending up at Chevron in Richmond. The series of walks aims to “connect the dots” to “bring awareness to the refinery communities, invite community members to get to know one another, and to show support for a just transition beyond fossil fuels,” according to the group’s website.

    At a gathering at the Martinez Regional Shoreline before the march, a winner of this year’s Goldman environmental prize, South African Desmond D’Sa, described the high rates of leukemia, cancer, and asthma in his home town of Durban and the community’s struggles against Shell Oil there, urging the crowd to “fight them (refineries) wherever they are.” Penny Opal Plant, of the East Bay Idle No More group, said she only recently began to conceive of the refinery corridor as a total area suffering from the “immense devastation” caused by oil refineries.

    Richmond residents have long protested pollution from Chevron, most recently the toxic explosion that sent 15,000 seeking medical treatment in August 2012. Benicia residents have also organized to oppose environmental hazards. In the last year, local groups have also formed in Pittsburg, Crockett-Rodeo, and Martinez to protest refinery expansion and transportation plans, including major increases in the amount of crude oil to be carried by rail through the Bay Area and beyond.

    Describing the dangers of mining, refining, and transporting oil, and looking ahead to a future free from fossil fuel, Opal Plant said, “We are Mother Earth’s immune response awakening. We’re born at this time to do this thing.”

    refinery_walk2_5-17.jpeg

    Kelly Johnson

    The group’s route first went through the Shell refinery, then over the bridge to Benicia, with a view of the Valero refinery there. From a hilltop vista point next to Carquinez Strait, Benicia activist Marilyn Bardet pointed out refineries and planned oil industry project sites, as well as the environmentally Suisun Marsh. Railroad tracks leading to the Valero refinery, she said, go right through the marsh. A spill of tar sands crude oil, she added, would be impossible to clean up because the oil is so heavy it would sink and cause irreparable damage.

    The next Refinery Corridor Healing walk is scheduled to go from Benicia to the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo on June 14.

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      SF Chronicle: California refiners double volume of oil imported by rail

      Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

      California refiners double volume of oil imported by rail

      Lynn Doan  |  May 3, 2014

      California, country’s biggest gasoline market, more than doubled the volume of oil it received by train in the first quarter as deliveries from Canada surged.

      The third-largest oil-refining state unloaded 1.41 million barrels in the first quarter, up from 693,457 a year ago, data on the state Energy Commission’s website showed last week. Canadian deliveries made up half the total and were eight times the number of shipments a year earlier. Supplies from New Mexico jumped 71 percent to 173,081 barrels. Those from North Dakota slid 34 percent to 277,046.

      Projects in works

      West Coast refiners including Tesoro Corp. and Valero Energy Corp. are developing projects to bring in more oil by rail from reserves across the middle of the U.S. and Canada to displace more expensive supplies. Crude production in the federal petroleum district that includes California and Alaska, has dropped every year since 2002, while drillers are extracting record volumes from shale in states including North Dakota and Texas.

      The surging flows of domestic oil to California “reflect a continuing improvement in crude-by-rail receiving facilities here,” said David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates, an energy consultant.

      Rail shipments still account for a small fraction of California’s oil demand. In February, the state imported more than 20 million barrels of crude from abroad, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

      Crude from North Dakota and Canada trades at a discount to Alaska North Slope oil, which rose 36 cents to $107.78 a barrel in early trading on Friday. Western Canada Select, a heavy, sour blend, gained 36 cents to $82.88. North Dakota’s Bakken crude also gained 36 cents to $95.28.

      It costs $9 to $10.50 a barrel to send North Dakota’s Bakken oil by rail to California, according to Tesoro, the West Coast’s largest refiner.

      Series of accidents

      Trains are bringing more oil to California even as projects face more regulatory scrutiny after a series of accidents involving rail cars carrying fuel. The most recent was on Wednesday, when a CSX Corp. crude train derailed in Lynchburg, Va., igniting a fire that led to an evacuation. A derailment in Quebec in July killed 47 people.

      The U.S. Transportation Department is studying changes to shipping oil by rail, and in February railroads agreed to slow such trains in urban areas. Canada ordered a phase-out of older tank cars last month.

      Officials in Benicia said Thursday that they’re delaying until June an environmental report on a rail-offloading complex that Valero has proposed at its refinery in the North Bay city. The San Antonio company originally planned to finish the project by the end of last year.

      Tesoro is six to eight weeks behind schedule in receiving regulatory permits for a rail-to-marine crude trans-loading terminal in Washington state, the company, also based in San Antonio, said Thursday. It now expects to receive the permits late this year or in early 2015, with construction taking about 12 months, Scott Spendlove, the chief financial officer, said on a conference call with analysts.

      Alaskan oil output has declined every year since 2002 as the yield from existing wells shrinks.

      Lynn Doan is a Bloomberg writer.
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