California Senate hearing on crude oil train safety, Wednesday 3/19

Repost from Contra Costa Times
Agenda – Joint Hearing on Emergency Response to Rail Accidents 3-19-14 CA Senate
Background – Joint Hearing on Emergency Response to Rail Accidents 3-19-14 CA Senate

Sacramento: Train accidents and emergency response subject of state Senate hearing

By Tom Lochner  Contra Costa Times
Posted:   03/18/2014 02:48:11 PM PDT | Updated:   84 min. ago

SACRAMENTO — Amid public concern over several train accidents and explosions in North America over the past year, and increased transport of crude oil into California by rail, two state Senate committees will hold a joint public hearing on emergency response to rail accidents on Wednesday.

In Northern California, much of the crude-by-rail is headed for Contra Costa County, home to four oil refineries. A fifth refinery is located in nearby Benicia.

There will be presentations by officials of several state agencies responsible for emergency response:

  • Office of Emergency Services
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAS), including the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department

The hearing, by the Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and Water committees, will be at 9:30 a.m. in the California State Capitol, Room 3191, in Sacramento.

Public participation is invited.

The hearing will be televised. More information is available at {To access the video, go to this link, note the correct ROOM number – 3191, then click on “Listen To Rooms” at left.  Find the correct room number again, and click. – BenIndy editor RS]

Dakota Resource Council video – the other end of our Benicia rails

Repost from Dakota Resource Council, also see Dakota Resource Council on Vimeo.
A touching video that intimately links our Benicia Valero decision with the lives of those who live at the other end of the rails. Pull up a chair – a worthwhile 30 minutes.  – BenIndy Editor Roger Straw

This Is Our Country: Living with the Wild West Oil Boom

Film explores what it is like to live in the Western North Dakota alongside oil and gas production

Dakota Resource Council was formed in 1978 to protect North Dakota’s land, air, water, rural communities and agricultural economy. DRC is working for preservation of family farms, enforcement of corporate farming laws, soil and water conservation, regulation of coal mining and oil and gas development, protection of groundwater and clean air, renewable energy, and sound management of solid and toxic wastes.

Valero Informational Meeting Monday, March 24

Valero is holding a meeting to promote and interpret its Crude By Rail proposal.   Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.,  Ironworkers Union Local 378, 3120 Bayshore Road, Benicia.  Get a “balanced perspective” by hearing Valero explain itself.  Ask your questions.  RSVP required: online at or by phone (707) 654-9745, or email to


Local officials may check Solano “Industrial Safety Ordinance”

Repost from Vallejo Times-Herald
[VERY interesting in this story: “Local officials say they may need to revisit the county’s Industrial Safety Ordinance to see whether modifications should be made to ensure safety in dealing with Bakken crude, which is more volatile and susceptible to explosion than heavier crude blends.”  – Editor]

Huge increase in crude oil by rail to Bay Area concerns local leaders

By Robert Rogers/MediaNews Group
Posted:   03/18/2014 01:08:00 AM PDT 

RICHMOND — Bakken crude oil from North Dakota is part of the mix of increased crude-by-rail shipments into Contra Costa County, raising concerns from local leaders about whether current regulations are sufficient to minimize risks of transporting the volatile fossil fuel.

“There’s a lot more to be learned, but Bakken (crude) is coming in now,” said Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Division Director Randy Sawyer. “How much, I don’t know.”

Kinder Morgan Inc., at 1140 Canal Blvd. in Richmond, secured a permit last month to transfer crude from rail cars to trucks, said county Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond, and is the only facility in the Bay Area that receives crude shipped on Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains, according to the California Energy Commission.

Domestic oil harvesting has increased in recent years, most notably in North Dakota, where drillers use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to fracture rock and extract oil. As the haul has increased, more oil is coming by rail to California refineries for processing.

Northern California volume of crude by rail increased 57 percent during 2013, from 74,332 barrels in January to 116,657 barrels in December, according to California Energy Commission statistics. But the bulk of the increase statewide went to Southern California refineries, as total state volume spiked from 155,841 barrels in January to 1,180,662 barrels in December. Only about one tenth of all crude-by-rail imports came to Northern California.

About 85 percent of the crude by rail delivered to Northern California in 2013 came from North Dakota, followed by 12.5 percent from Colorado, according to the commission. Four of the five Northern California oil refineries listed by the commission are in Contra Costa County, with the other in Benicia.

The city of Benicia is considering local resident concerns about Valero’s proposals to ship crude by rail.

Local officials say they may need to revisit the county’s Industrial Safety Ordinance to see whether modifications should be made to ensure safety in dealing with Bakken crude, which is more volatile and susceptible to explosion than heavier crude blends.

What local agencies can do to regulate the rail cargo, which is typically covered by federal interstate commerce laws, is limited.

The changes come as popular resistance to increased refining of continental oil has been building.

In the past month, critics hosted town hall-style meetings in Richmond, Martinez and Pittsburg decrying planned increases in crude-by-rail shipments into the Bay Area. Activists drew attention to rising accident numbers, with particular emphasis on a train explosion in July in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where 47 people were killed. Other derailments and explosions have occurred in the past year in Alabama and North Dakota.

For safe and healthy communities…