BREAKING: City of Davis urges Benicia to refuse to certify Valero oil train EIR

By Roger Straw, February 5, 2016

BREAKING: City of Davis urges Benicia to refuse to certify Valero oil train EIR

City_of_DavisThe Benicia Independent is in receipt of a City of Davis letter sent on February 3, 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 decline to certify the massive 3-volume document.

If Benicia declines to certify the EIR, Valero would have to revise the environmental study yet again, or withdraw.  Many believe that Valero would instead appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the Benicia City Council in hopes of a more favorable hearing.

The Davis letter is signed by Assistant City Manager Mike Webb, who writes, “These trains will travel…on the UPRR main railroad track which runs through the city of Davis, immediately adjacent to the Davis downtown area and to residential areas. The rail line also runs immediately adjacent to the University of California Davis campus.”

The heart of the letter reads, “Davis requests that Benicia reject the adequacy of the Final EIR (FEIR), decline to certify the FEIR, and send it back to staff to fully analyze mitigation measures for safety, as set forth in Davis’ and SACOG’s earlier letters and then to impose the measures suggested by SACOG and Davis, as well as any additional measures that are feasible.”

Webb calls upon Benicia to act responsibly: “As we have seen occur in other communities, a derailment and the potential for fire, explosion, and train upset is real and should not be ignored. It is the obligation of public agencies to safeguard all their communities to the best of their abilities.”

The letter continues with highly critical comments about the EIR, “Davis submits that the Final ElR is legally inadequate….When a lead agency disagrees with a comment, the response must address comment in detail. The lead agency must provide a good-faith, reasoned analysis; conclusory statements without facts are not adequate. The FElR fails to meet this  standard.”

Giving two detailed examples of the FEIR’s failure to address Davis’ previous comments, the letter concludes, “Benicia and Valero have the authority and ability to adopt measures that will be effective. The City of Davis again urges Benicia, for the safety of all the residents of this region, to reject the Final ElR as inadequate under CEQA and to analyze and adopt the feasible mitigation measures that are available in order to reduce the significant adverse impacts posed by this Project.”