Benicia City Council approves “findings,” officially closes the door on Valero Crude By Rail

By Roger Straw, October 5, 2016

benicia_logoAfter lengthy discussion and significant tweaking on Tuesday night Oct 4, the Benicia City Council unanimously approved a Resolution to Deny Valero’s proposal to build an offloading facility for oil trains. After a long list of whereases, the document indicates “findings” that back up the Council’s unanimous September 20 vote to deny Valero’s permit.

Anticipating litigation, Council members spent hours reworking the findings submitted by City Attorney Heather McLaughlin, making every effort to approve a document that would be “bullet-proof” in a court of law.

In the draft submitted to Council by staff, a number of the findings pointed out serious impacts both uprail and onsite.  Council wordsmithed the document to move suggested “findings” that relate to OFFSITE rail impacts to a section of the document that was “for information only.”  That section is included only to alert State and Federal governmental officials and regulators that more needs to be done at those levels to reign in unsafe and polluting transport of North American crude oil by rail.

The remaining findings relating to ONSITE impacts are extensive, and should be more than adequate to stand up in any possible court challenge.

The edited version of Council’s Resolution is not yet available as of this writing.  The draft copy is available here.  Minutes of the Council meeting have not yet been posted, but VIDEO of the Oct 4 meeting is available on the City’s website, here.  The Council’s discussion begins at 2:19:10 on the video and goes for an hour and a half, until the end of the meeting, at 3:49:34.