Category Archives: Regional regulation

Solano County to hold “Rail Safety Discussion” on Mon., Sept. 29, 6pm

Repost from SolanoCounty.com News Details
[Editor: this event has been referred to alternately as a “discussion”  a “forum,” an “information session,” a “public meeting,” and a “community conversation,”   Very little has been published to indicate that the County is eager to hear from the public at this meeting.  Nonetheless, governmental meetings always provide an opportunity for the public to be heard.  If you go, plan to learn something from emergency professionals, government officials and staff … and to offer your own sage advice on the best way to contain catastrophic emergencies….  – RS]

Rail safety discussion planned for Sept. 29

September 8, 2014

SOLANO COUNTY – How can emergency responders increase their capabilities to respond to potential incidents that could happen along the 73 miles of railway that cross Solano County?

That is the question to be discussed at an information session from
6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Administration Center, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield
.

“As we prepare for and anticipate the transportation of crude oil through our county, a community conversation about our preparedness and the potential impact from an incident is essential,” said Supervisor Linda Seifert.

The meeting’s objective will be to raise awareness of the existing safety measures already in place throughout the county and to identify potential gaps and mitigations based on potential changes in rail traffic.

Invited speakers include representatives from Valero, Union Pacific Railroad, Solano County Office of Emergency Services, the Solano County Fire Chiefs Association, and local air quality management districts. Congressman John Garamendi and state Senator Lois Wolk have also been invited to participate.

County officials said the timing of the event was two-fold. September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. In addition, the City of Benicia is considering an application that would allow Valero to receive and process crude oil delivered by rail.

“We know emergency responders from across the county, including the Hazardous Materials Response Team, are prepared for a wide array of potential incidents. Proposals to process crude oil delivered by rail will change the mix of materials coming into and passing through Solano County. It is only prudent for us to explore how to increase our capability to handle the risks associated with these changes,” Supervisor Seifert said.

Sacramento Area Council of Governments: Letter critical of Valero DEIR approved

SACOG – representing 6 counties and 22 cities – to file objections by Sept 15 deadline

August 21, 2014
[Editor: This is an edited version of an email by Lynne Nittler of Davis, CA, who attended the meeting.  – RS]

The 28-member Board of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) met on August 21, 2014, and listened to 15 community member comments from Davis, Sacramento, Dixon and Benicia who thanked them for their thorough and well-documented letter on uprail concerns not adequately addressed in the Benicia Valero Crude-by-Rail Project DEIR.  All urged the Board to submit the letter.

In addition, SACOG counsel Kirk Trost, who researched and wrote the letter, explained his efforts to execute their directions and stood by his letter.  A spokesperson from Valero claimed that many of the requests in the letter should be directed to the federal government due to federal preemption.  Union Pacific offered to serve as an information resource as they are not technically involved; however their letter to SACOG (also submitted to the DEIR) stresses federal preemption and states outright, with citations of similar cases, that ”neither SACOG nor its member agencies has authority to  impose the mitigation measures or conditions proposed in the draft Comment Letter on Valero Crude by Rail Project Environmental Impact Report.”

The SACOG Board held to their original plan to submit the letter which they commended and believed stated the truth of the inadequacies of the DEIR.   With just one substitute Director attempting to dismiss or weaken the letter unsuccessfully, the rest of the Board voted to submit the letter.

In the next item on their agenda, the SACOG Board agreed to look at the comments developed by Mr. Trost on the federal DOT Rule-making document presently open for public comment through the end of September.   (For information on how to send your comment to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, see Two-month comment period starts for new federal oil train rules.)

It remains to be seen how this all plays out legally, as Valero and UP are powerful players who are used to winning.

The Sacramento Air Quality Management District will shortly send their letter, another strong one, but more narrowly focused on air quality issues.  Also, watch for letters from the cities of Davis (city council on Sept. 2), Sacramento, Roseville, and Colfax.