KCRA TV3 NEWS VIDEO: Valero’s oil train project halted by Benicia city leaders

Repost from KCRA TV3, Sacramento CA
[Editor: The video could not be embedded here on Benicia Indy, but it’s a good one – click the image to go to KCR3’s website for the video.  – RS]

Valero’s oil train project halted by Benicia city leaders

Crude oil train would have traveled through NorCal cities daily
Sep 21, 2016, 9:10 PM PDT

benicia_video_linkBENICIA, Calif. (KCRA) —Benicia City Councilmembers denied Valero’s plans Tuesday night to move forward on its crude-by-rail proposal, citing safety concerns.

The project would have had trains transporting tens of thousands of crude oil – daily — to Benicia through Sacramento-area communities.

In the city of Benicia, with a population just under 30,000, you can’t miss the large presence of Valero.

“They provide a lot of money to the city,” Benicia resident John Geels said.

The company is the largest employer, providing 20 percent to the general fund. So, it became a big deal last night when city council members told the company “No.”

“We denied the appeal that Valero put forward, after the planning commission unanimously denied their application for a permit,” Benicia Councilmember Christina Strawbridge said.

That permit would have paved the way for an expansive crude oil project impacting Northern California cities.

For years, the issue went beyond the borders of Benicia, as the public and other jurisdictions expressed concerns over safety.

“Right in the heart of Davis, we are in the blast zone right now,” Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor said. “And, that increased volume would increase the risk in our communities.”

Ultimately, Benicia councilmembers voted unanimously to reject the plan, many citing recent oil train emergencies.

“It gave me real pause,” Strawbridge said. “As far as rail safety, there’s been 13 different derailments since 2013.”

Valero issued a response to the decision:

“After nearly four years of review and analysis by independent experts and the city, we are disappointed that the city councilmembers have chosen to reject the crude by rail project. At this time, we are considering our options moving forward.”

The divisive issue still has some residents split on the outcome.

“I feel bad for Valero, and I’m sure it’s going to hurt them financially,” Geels said. “But, I’m glad they were turned down.”

Meanwhile, others said the small city is making big waves, setting a new precedent as the conversation over crude oil transport continues.

“So, it’s a milestone because this community stood up,” Saylor said.

On Thursday morning, the planning commission in San Luis Obispo County will be taking up a similar hearing — for an oil-by-rail project proposed by Phillips 66.