Letter to the California Energy Commission: a stronger approach to rail safety

[Editor: The Benicia Independent joined the NRDC, the City of Berkeley, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and many other organizations with this letter to the California Energy Commission building on recommendations of the State of California Interagency Rail Safety Working Group, and asking for a more aggressive approach to rail safety in California.  Below is the lead paragraph – click here for the full 8-page letter in PDF format.  – RS]

July 10, 2014

Via Email to: docket@energy.ca.gov
California Energy Commission
Dockets Office, MS-4
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512

Re: Docket No. 14-IEP-1F; Additional Recommendations for Oil By Rail Safety in California

Dear Commissioners Weisenmiller, Scott, Hochschild, McAllister, and Douglas:

On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the City of Berkeley and the undersigned groups, representing over 500,000 members, activists, and residents in California, we write to submit comments on the policy recommendations included in the report “Oil by Rail Safety in California” by the State of California Interagency Rail Safety Working Group (“the report”). The report was released on June 10, 2014, and includes background on the rise of crude-by-rail transport in California and an overview of the unique risks that crude-by-rail transport poses to California, along with recommendations for actions the state should take to address those risks. We commend the state for taking this first step towards addressing this urgent issue, and particularly are impressed with recommendations to increase support to local emergency responders and extend the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) fee to apply to rail shipments of crude. There are a number of areas, however, where we are concerned that the Working Group’s recommendations are not aggressive enough to address the full extent of the serious safety, public health, and environmental risks of crude-by-rail.  [ MORE ]