BREAKING: Yolo County urges Benicia to mitigate impacts before approving Valero oil train project
The Benicia Independent is in receipt of a Yolo County letter sent on January 26, 2016 to the City of Benicia, but not as yet posted on the City’s website. The letter is severely critical of the City’s Final EIR, and calls for the Benicia Planning Commission to insist on measures that would offset significant environmental, health and safety impacts to communities along the Union-Pacific rail line.
Jim Provenza, Chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors writes, “Although the City’s revised analysis correctly acknowledges that the project will have significant impacts to communities along the Union-Pacific rail line, the County is concerned that these significant impacts are not sufficiently mitigated. Indeed, the City eschews its responsibility to consider possible mitigation measures on the incorrect premise that any such efforts would be preempted by federal law.”
The letter goes on to reference a letter sent to Benicia by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), in which the legal case is made that such mitigations are not preempted by federal law.
The letter concludes, “In light of the significant impacts identified in the Revised Draft EIR, we ask that the City of Benicia reconsider its position on preemption and not approve the project until the impacts are mitigated. SACOG’s October 30, 2015 letter provides mitigation measures that are both feasible and necessary to lessen the impact on our local communities. Without these mitigation measures in place, the project should not be approved.”
The City of Benicia published a Public Notice in the local newspaper today, announcing the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). The notice also gave details on upcoming public hearings. Relevant excerpt on upcoming dates:
PUBLIC HEARING The City of Benicia Planning Commission will hold a formal public hearing to receive comments on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. to consider the Final EIR and a Use Permit for the Crude by Rail project. In anticipation of the number of speakers, additional Planning Commission meetings to receive comments are scheduled for February 9, February 10 and February 11, 2016. These additional meetings will only be held as necessary to hear public comment – if all members of the public who wish to speak on the FEIR and the Use Permit have been heard, for example, during the meeting on February 9th, then no further public comments would be heard during subsequent meetings. All meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, Benicia City Hall, located at 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510.
The FEIR is now available on the City’s website and linked here on the Benicia Independent’s Project Documents page. Please set aside time immediately to review the document and prepare your comments for the City. There are only 34 days between release of the document today and the Public Hearing on Monday, February 8.