LETTER: The New Revised DEIR (ho hum)

LETTER: The New Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report

By Jim Kirchhoffer, September 28, 2015

The title alone is enough to make a casual reader turn on football or a cooking show. The new report, after an outcry from our local citizens, is just as numbing and distortive as the first one.  It will be open for discussion on Tuesday, September 29.

At the meeting last year, I offered a request for details on how the figure for potential rail disasters of .001 % was computed.  It was also stated as one potential derailment every 111 years!

This particular statistic was picked up by the national and state press and others, to the confusion of all.  Since I represent no one of any importance, I was not surprised to see it was not addressed in the new report. The new  report does, however, admit to 4 oil train bomb derailments events this year.  I think there have now been five. Irreguardless, as we say back in Indiana, that’s a jolly big difference from one every 111 years or .001%!

Do they really think we’re that stupid ? I guess so.

In other words, fellow readers and citizens, the new report as well as the first report is a rigged, crafted, professional snow job to sell us a bill of goods.

Valero paid for it. That’s the way the process works.  And they sure got their money’s worth!  Yes Valero is a very good neighbor.  They fund many local activities, and put up, I understand, 25% of our town’s budget. But what is the core of the deal?

Valero wants to cut half of the marine crude that comes in to receiving that same amount by train. See, no increase in oil we refine at all, just this switch in transportation. What’s the problem with that?

Why are they so eager ?

Well, as a local friend reminds me, “Follow the money”. There is fantastic profit in Bakkan crude, and the only way to get it to Benicia is by rail.  In cars that explode in derailments into massive fires that firefighters have to let simply burn out. Which cars can not be replaced for several years, at best. On rail lines that transverse some of  our most beautiful and treasured waterways. And in the southern Nevada route–one of three ways into the state–the report itself reveals that 82% of that rail line has rails that are on the 3-4 scale, verses the 4-5 that Amtrak and the rest of Union Pacific use.  And we have no power or control over which line Union Pacific uses.

Valero wants to make a lot more money.  Nothing wrong with that.  In fact that’s their legal mandate; increase profit for their shareholders. If the CEO doesn’t, the Board of Directors fires him. That’s the way the game is played.

And the way we play the game is to reject the Environmental Report.  It is a farce, and if you have read either or both, you will see that right away. The only way to get this terribly dangerous crude oil away is to stop Valero from changing their current transportation procedure. Before this plan of Valero, there were no complaints.  No rally’s and demonstrations and hundreds of people crowing into Council chambers to protest.

Valero can go on just as they have been doing, which seems to have been working well for them. We can go on feeling safe in our homes and town. Do we really want 2 (two) 50 tank car trains per day rolling into Benicia each and everyday ?

I think not.  What’s in it for us ?  Hope you can come to the meeting on Tuesday, September 29.

Jim Kirchhoffer
Benicia, California