There are hazards everywhere, said Amy Howard, 47, a local historian and craft store manager, and hurricanes have shaped the culture of this storied village. She showed off the floorboards her great-grandfather cut out in 1933 to relieve pressure from mounting water and prevent the house from floating off its foundations. The building was raised in 1944 after a storm, and her father plans to elevate it further.
Amid Flooding, Groups Call for End to ‘Unconscionable’ Fossil Fuel Auctions
By Nadia Prupis, 8/19/16 Common Dreams
A coalition of climate and advocacy groups on Friday called on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction as Louisiana reels from the unprecedented floods that have ravaged the state—and which rescue groups have described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.
The organizations, including 350.org, CREDO, and Greenpeace… [continued]
Climate activists want fossil-fuel lease auction canceled in flood-stricken Louisiana
By Sue Sturgis, 8/19/16, Facing South
The historic flooding that has left at least 13 people dead and damaged some 40,000 homes in southwestern and central Louisiana this week was caused by record heavy rain, with as much as 31 inches falling in some places over the course of several days.
While scientists are cautious about saying climate change is the cause of any single weather event, they point out that five other states… [continued]
In the Wake of Devastating Flooding in Louisiana, Groups Urge Obama Administration to Cancel Upcoming Gulf Drilling Lease Sale
For Immediate Release, 8/19/16, 350.org
350.org, CREDO, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Oil Change International, Endangered Species Coalition, Bold Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Earthworks, and the No New Leases Coalition tell President Obama: The Gulf Coast is not for sale
BATON ROUGE, La. – In the wake of unprecedented flooding in central and southwestern Louisiana, leading national environmental organizations are calling on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction in the Gulf.
The devastating flooding is among the most severe weather disasters since Hurricane Sandy. Across the region, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, thousands of homes damaged, and at least eleven people killed.
Next Wednesday, on August 24th, the Obama administration is planning to sell off an area the size of Virginia… [continued]
Repost from Bloomberg News
[Editor: You can count on the oil industry to prevaricate. The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that ExxonMobil released a statement disputing this Bloomberg report. “‘Contrary to some reports, the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Complex is operating. It is our practice not to comment on specific unit operations at our facilities,’ the company said.” – RS]
Exxon Said to Slow Louisiana Refinery as People Escape FloodBy Barbara J Powell & Brian K Sullivan, August 17, 2016 6:13 AM PDT, Updated 4:14 PM PDT
• Fourth-largest U.S. refinery affected as waters rise
• Louisiana is home to about 18% of U.S. refining capacity
Exxon Mobil Corp. curbed operations at the fourth-largest U.S. refinery as record flooding in Louisiana shut roadways, sent tens of thousands fleeing from their homes and threatened the state’s oil infrastructure.
The Baton Rouge refinery along the Mississippi shut four production units and idled others when the flooding threatened an offsite liquefied petroleum gas storage facility and pumping station, a person familiar with operations said early Wednesday. The refinery can process 502,500 barrels of crude a day into gasoline, diesel and other fuels.
At least 11 people have died, 30,000 people rescued and 40,000 homes have been damaged as almost 2 feet (61 centimeters) of rain fell in parts of southern Louisiana, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Flood warnings extended across much of the southern portions of the state with many bayous and rivers still at dangerous levels. Louisiana is home to about 18 percent of U.S. refining capacity, according to Energy Information Administration data.
Most in danger from direct disruption from flooding is the support infrastructure consisting of pipelines, terminals, salt caverns and above-ground pumping stations, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
“Those that supply support services to refineries could be in danger of shutting down, and that could impact refineries’ operations,” Lipow said.
Todd Spitler, an Exxon spokesman, said the refinery is operating. The company doesn’t comment on specific unit operations and has continued to meet contractual commitments, he said
Through Tuesday, Baton Rouge had received 22.11 inches of rain since the start of August, more than 19 inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service. New Orleans got 7.46 inches, or 4.35 above normal; Lake Charles had 11.22 inches, or 8.69 above normal; and Lafayette logged 23.19, or 20.81 higher than the 30-year average.
Governor John Bel Edwards declared an emergency on Friday. Residents in 20 parishes are eligible for federal assistance and in two days 39,000 people have registered, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.
Motiva Enterprises LLC said in an online message to employees Wednesday afternoon that it will staff its Convent refinery, about 38 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, with only essential personnel through at least Sunday. The company had previously said the restriction would last until Wednesday.
Angela Goodwin, a Motiva spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. She said Tuesday that operations at Motiva’s Convent and its Norco refinery, about 38 miles to the south, are stable.
Gulf Coast fuel prices climbed early Wednesday on the prospect of refinery outages. Ultra-low sulfur diesel strengthened 1 cent to 2.75 cents below New York Mercantile Exchange futures, the narrowest discount since November 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Conventional gasoline gained 1.88 cents to trade near parity with futures for the first time in four days.
The Benicia Independent is in receipt of the 92-page expert analysis of Dr. Phyllis Fox, submitted yesterday to the City of Benicia. As of this posting, the report has not been posted on the City’s website.
The report focuses primarily on the many significant local impacts and risk factors. This is highly important, in that the Council is being urged to ignore all of the crucial uprail factors of health and safety that have been identified.
City staff, paid consultants, the City’s contract attorney and Valero have all cited federal law that protects railroads from local or state regulation. Together, they claim that Benicia’s City Council may not deny or mitigate Valero’s plan based on anything beyond Valero’s small boundary.
Nearly a dozen opposing attorneys have testified to the contrary, asserting that Benicia has every right to deny a permit to a company like Valero that is NOT a railroad, and to condition any approval on local government and police powers to protect the health and safety of the community and those affected by impacts of the project.
Should the Council choose to ignore uprail impacts, Dr. Fox’s lengthy listing of local impacts will offer a clear path for a decisive vote to reject Valero’s proposal. Taken together, the horrific uprail impacts alongside these daunting on-site health and safety impacts make a convincing case for denial.
Short of denial of the land use permit for the project, Dr. Fox has shown the many fatal flaws and inadequacies of the EIR. She calls for it to be revised and recirculated yet again.
I. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
II. ON-SITE ROG EMISSIONS ARE SIGNIFICANT
……A. On-Site Fugitive Railcar ROG Emissions Are Significant
……B. Feasible Mitigation For On-Site Fugitive Railcar ROG Emissions
……C. Storage Tank ROG Emissions
…………1. Tanks Violate BAAQMD Rule 8-5
…………2. Feasible Tank Mitigation
III. ON-SITE TOXIC AIR CONTAMINANT EMISSIONS RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT OFF-SITE HEALTH RISKS
IV. PUBLIC SAFETY AND HAZARD IMPACTS ARE SIGNIFICANT
……A. The EIR’s Quantitative Significance Risk Assessment Is Incorrect and Unsupported
…………1. The Santa Barbara County CEQA Guidelines Are Misapplied
…………2. The Santa Barbara CEQA Guidelines Are Not Solely Applicable
…………3. The EIR’s Quantitative Risk Assessment Is Unsupported
……B. Off-Site Risks from On-Site Accidents Are Significant
…………1. Number of Injuries
…………2. Number of Fatalities
…………3. Feasible Mitigation
……C. The EIR Fails to Evaluate All Feasible Types of Accidents
……D. The EIR Fails to Evaluate All Feasible On-Site Accident Scenarios
…………1. Accidents During Train Maneuvering at Unloading Facility (Impact 4.7-3)
…………2. Accidents During Line Hookup And Crude Oil Transfer (Impact 4.7-4)
…………3. BLEVE (Thermal Tear)
……E. Accidents at Other Project Facilities Were Excluded
…………1. Crude Oil Pipeline
…………2. Crude Tank Farm
…………3. Access Road
……F. Factors Contributing to Hazard Impact Significance
…………1. The Location
…………2. Ignition Sources
…………3. External Events
…………4. Centroid Location
…………5. Other Rail Traffic
SIGNIFICANT EXCERPT (footnotes removed here):
[Benicia’s] Community Development Director (CDD) concluded “the Project’s on-site impacts are mitigated to a less than significant level and all the findings can be made to approve the Use Permit.” Thus, Staff recommended that the City Council overturn the Planning Commission’s denial, certify the FEIR, and approve the Use Permit (3/9/16 CDD Memo).
SAFER requested that I review the CDD’s conclusions, focusing on on-site impacts. My analysis of the record and additional analyses, documented below, indicate that the Project will result in significant on-site impacts that have not been disclosed in the EIR. These include:
• Significant on-site emissions of reactive organic gases (ROG) from railcar fugitives;
• Significant on-site ROG emissions from change in service of existing crude oil storage tanks;
• Significant cancer, chronic, and acute health impacts from benzene emitted from railcar fugitives;
• Significant off-site injury and fatality impacts from on-site accidents;
• Significant off-site flooding impacts from on-site infrastructure and railcars; and
• Significant off-site injury and fatality impacts from on-site accidents caused by seismic shaking.
Thus, the EIR must be revised to disclose these impacts, impose all feasible mitigation, and be recirculated.