Valero appeal to City Council (and STB)

Here you can download documents relating to Valero’s APPEAL of the Planning Commission’s unanimous denial AND Valero’s delay of proceedings and petition to the Surface Transportation Board. Watch for STB news at the STB’s Filings Page (under E-Library, go to Decisions & Notices, or Filings, and search for “valero” under Case Title). These documents (shown below with most recent at top) come from the City of Benicia’s website.  They are the official documents submitted by Valero and/or prepared by the City.  (Documents submitted by citizens and others commenting on the proposal may be found on our Project Review page.)

Two later letters, received at the STB after deadline:

  1. letter dated June 18 but filed on July 14 represents the view of Qep Energy, a “crude oil producer in the Williston Basin of North Dakota and has been a consistent supplier to Valero Refining and Marketing for several years.”  The letter supports Valero’s petition and requests that the STB “institute a proceeding and grant Valero’s Petition affirming its right to receive rail service.”
  2. A second letter dated July 11 and filed on July 27, was sent by the League of California Cities, and urges the STB “to deny Valero’s Petition for Declaratory Order because it is an overbroad interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act and would have significant and detrimental impacts on local land use authority over non-rail carriers.”

A flood of STB filings at deadline on 7/8/16, including these important letters…

    1. Safe Fuel and Energy Resources California (SAFER)
    2. Cities of Davis, Oakland and Berkeley, California, Sacramento Area Council Of Governments, and County Of Yolo, California
    3. Attorneys for Benicians For A Safe And Healthy Community, Center For Biological Diversity, Communities For A Better Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, San Francisco Baykeeper, Sierra Club, AND STAND (The STB version is a huge 163-page download. Here on the Benicia Independent you can download it in two smaller parts: the 33-page letter and a very large 130-page file of Exhibits accompanying the letter.)
    4. California Attorney General Kamala Harris representing the People of the State of California (previously not available on the STB website, and also downloadable here on the Benicia Independent)
    5. Association Of Irritated Residents, Climate Solutions, Columbia Riverkeeper, Evergreen Islands, Friends Of The Columbia Gorge, Friends Of The Earth, Resources For Sustainable Communities, Friends Of The San Juans, Spokane Riverkeeper, And Washington Environmental Council
    6. City of Benicia letter to the STB: City wants to retain local permitting authority

Union Pacific sends letter to the Surface Transportation Board in support of Valero

On June 17, Union Pacific Railroad (UP) sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board ” in support of the request of Valero Refining Company…for the Board to institute a declaratory order proceeding.”

UP is the railroad that would carry dangerous and dirty North American crude by rail through California’s mountain ranges, wildlands, towns and cities to Valero Refinery in Benicia, if Benicia’s City Council gives approval in September. Local observers here in Benicia have seen UP upgrading its infrastructure at great expense in anticipation of a Valero permitting success.

The UP letter is plain in its financial motivation, and says nothing about the health and safety of the earth or its inhabitants. The railroad asks for a free hand in all operations, direct or indirect, involving rail transport of hazardous materials.


On June 6, 2016, an 8-page formal request was filed with the Surface Transportation Board by attorneys representing Benicians For A Safe and Healthy Community, Center for Biological Diversity, Communities For A Better Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, San Francisco Baykeeper, Sierra Club, and Stand. The petition sought additional time (until July 8, 2016) for replies to the Petition for Declaratory Order filed by Valero Refining Company. The STB granted the request on June 9.

City Council directs Benicia City Staff to file a response to Valero’s petition to STB

(See the report here.)

Tesoro also petitions Surface Transportation Board

On June 7, the City of Benicia posted a Tesoro petition asking the STB for a declaratory order.  The original document is huge (14MB), but is available here in an unofficial reduced, searchable format.  Excerpt: “[Tesoro] files this Petition for Declaratory Order to give effect to the provisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act…protecting the rights of shippers to receive rail service upon reasonable request….The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (“SITC”) brought suit in federal court against BNSF Railway Company (“BNSF”), seeking to prohibit or manage rail service to Tesoro’s refinery in Anacortes, Washington….The rail service at issue extends over tribal lands held in trust by the United States government….”

Valero Petition to the Federal Surface Transportation Board

Valero’s Petition to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) is now available on the City of Benicia website .  A SEARCHABLE version can be downloaded here on the Benicia Independent.  [The City website download is not fully searchable.]

The complete document is 107 pages and nearly 7MB.  It includes a Cover Letter (p. 1), the PETITION itself (pages 2-24), and a list of exhibits (page 25), as follows:


  • Exhibit 1: Land Use Permit Application Crude by Rail Project, Valero Benicia Refinery (Dec. 2012)
  • Exhibit 2: Excerpts – City of Benicia, Valero Benicia Crude By Rail Project, Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (2015)
  • Exhibit 3: Excerpts – Transcript of Record Benicia Special Planning Commission Meeting (Feb. 11, 2016)
  • Exhibit 4: City of Benicia, Cal., Planning Comm’n Resolution No. 16-1 (Feb. 11, 2016)
  • Exhibit 5: Excerpts – Transcript of Record Benicia City Council Meeting (Mar. 15, 2016)
  • Exhibit 6: Excerpts – Transcript of Record Benicia City Council Meeting (Apr. 19, 2016) [Note that this transcript was made available to Valero well in advance of its June 2 posting for public review on the City website)
  • Exhibit 7: Excerpts – Transcript of Record Benicia Special Planning Commission Meeting (Feb. 9, 2016)

Valero Appeal

Valero Benicia Refinery appealed the decision of Benicia’s Planning Commission Monday, February 29, 2016.  The formal Appeal Form was accompanied by an 11-page letter by Valero’s attorney, John Flynn of Nossaman LLP.  The letter details Valero’s position, and is posted on the City’s website.

During Valero’s appeal process, the City of Benicia has posted the following additional documents. (Also note the many PUBLIC comments on the appeal on our Project Review page.)

(For reference…) Planning Commission resolution: NO to Valero Crude by Rail

On February 18, 2016, the City of Benicia released the highly anticipated resolution of the Planning Commission with negotiated wording to deny certification of the EIR and to deny a use permit for Valero’s Crude By Rail project.  [MORE]

For safe and healthy communities…