Correction – tar sands, not bakken spotted in Bay Area?

By Roger Straw, editor, The Benicia Independent

In my weekly BenIndy newsletter yesterday I highlighted KPIX’s most recent report, “Trains Carrying Fracked Oil Spotted In Bay Area.”

First, KPIX is to be thanked for its continued excellent coverage of the crude by rail crisis in the Bay Area.

But overnight, I heard from a trusted community organizer in Davis, Lynne Nittler, who is in touch with a staff person for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR).  They believe that the Kinder Morgan trains are most likely carrying crude sourced from tar sands, not fracked Bakken crude.

The OSPR staffer was told that the trains are carrying tar sands crude.  This clearly fits with the last quarter of data posted by the California Energy Commission, which shows a sudden increase in tar sands coming into California.  The Commission had predicted 2 million barrels in crude-by-rail for 2013.  In reality, it jumped to 6 million barrels – because of the increases last quarter.  See

So I want to correct any possible misinformation I might have spread in my newsletter.  The fault for misinformation here?  Certainly not KPIX.  A Bay Area expert offered the following observation, “This is clear evidence that we need public disclosure: what are these rail cars carrying, how much, on what routes?”  I let KPIX reporters know about this.  The Kinder Morgan tar-sands trains would be a good follow-up story.  This is deadly serious – diluted tar sands crude is less volatile, but as Lynne Nittler wrote, dilbit spills “are worse – more polluting and harder to clean up, more corrosive, and much worse at the refinery for air pollution and producing much more petcoke.”

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