“Stop Crude by Rail” Benicia Activist Marilyn Bardet Honored With 13th Annual Anthony Grassroots Prize

Repost from The Rose Foundation
[Editor: We are so proud of our colleague and friend, Marilyn Bardet.  This honor is more than well-deserved.  What would Benicia be without her sharp eyes and driving, precision vocabulary on issues of community health and safety.  Don’t miss the photos and videos far below.  – RS]

2014 Anthony Prize Winner – Marilyn Bardet

“Stop Crude by Rail” Benicia Activist Marilyn Bardet Honored With 13th Annual Anthony Grassroots Prize

Oakland, CA, May 6, 2014

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment today announces Marilyn Bardet of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community as the winner of the 2014 Anthony Grassroots Prize, an annual Earth Day award recognizing an outstanding example of grassroots environmental stewardship.

Last year, the Valero refinery proposed adding a massive crude oil rail terminal to their facility. The project would bring 100 rail tanker cars through Benicia every day, potentially carrying some of the dirtiest and dangerously explosive crude oils such as tar sands and Bakken crude. Bardet sprang into action, forming a new group, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, and collaborating with other fenceline communities and national organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council, who nominated her for the Prize, to stop crude by rail in Benicia and the Bay Area.

“It takes a special kind of person to stand up to big oil on behalf of the community,” according to Anthony Prize founder Juliette Anthony. “We salute Marilyn Bardet’s 20 years of advocacy and celebrate her many past achievements. With the threat of hundreds of oil tanker cars headed to Benicia every day loaded with dirty, explosive Bakken crude, we need her now more than ever.”

Bardet embodies the unsung grassroots activist spirit for which the Prize was established, helping lead community efforts to protect Benicia residents from toxics and hazards for the past twenty years. She, along with fellow residents, has taken on David v. Goliath local challenges posed by big corporations including Koch Industries and the Valero Refinery – and won. In 1995, she led a successful local campaign to stop Koch Industries’ proposed petroleum coke storage and shipping terminal at the Port of Benicia and continues to support community efforts to shape a post-carbon Benicia.

Upon learning the news of her award, Bardet was “amazed and honored.” “The Anthony Prize might as well be the Nobel Prize for us small groups working in the trenches,” says Bardet. “Pulling grassroots activists out of the woodwork and showcasing the amazing things they are getting done in their local communities is a noble, important thing Rose Foundation is doing.”

In 1999, Bardet helped found the Good Neighbor Steering Committee (GNSC) in Benicia, a residents’ association formed out of concern about what would happen once the former Exxon refinery was sold to Valero. Since its founding, Marilyn and the GNSC have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the Valero refinery, monitored developments, and encouraged the creation of a Community Advisory Panel after a string of incidents including flaring, spills, and fires.

In 2008, GNSC and Bardet were instrumental in securing “The Valero/Good Neighbor Steering Committee Settlement Agreement,” providing $14 million in environmental benefits to the City of Benicia, including a commitment to air quality monitoring, improvements in energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reductions, and water-saving measures.

Like many grassroots activists, Bardet doesn’t do this work for a paycheck, but for love of her community. For Bardet, “the most profound challenge we all now face is the accelerating rate of climate change. Continuing “business as usual” run by Big Oil – pretending we can go on extracting and burning fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow – is a dead end with horrific long-range consequences.” The Anthony Grassroots Prize, to Bardet, “honors all the good work being done by so many communities helping bring about the necessary transition to a post carbon, resilient, sustainable and just economy and culture. Accepting this award, I receive it for many.”

Bardet has designated the $1,000 prize money be awarded to Benicia Community Gardens, a grassroots non-profit of which she is the Board Chair. Benicia Community Gardens has established two community gardens, a local CSA program, and the first Benicia community orchard.

For more information about Marilyn Bardet and the campaign to Stop Crude By Rail, contact: Marilyn Bardet, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, (707) 745-9094 or (707) 816-9777, mjbardet@comcast.net

ABOUT the Anthony Grassroots Prize
The Anthony Grassroots Prize was endowed by Juliette Anthony, a lifelong environmental activist who has received wide recognition for her work in protecting the Santa Monica Mountains, banning the toxic gasoline additive MTBE, promoting solar power and publicizing the negative environmental impacts of ethanol.

ABOUT Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment supports community-based advocacy to protect the environment and public health through grant-making and direct service programs. Rose Foundation’s focus includes grassroots activism, watershed protection, environmental justice and consumer rights. Rose also administers New Voices Are Rising, a youth leadership development and environmental justice advocacy training program.

For more information about the Anthony Grassroots Prize & Rose Foundation, contact: Tim Little, Executive Director, Rose Foundation, (510) 658-0702 ext. 301, tlittle@rosefdn.org

Marion Gee, Communications Coordinator, Rose Foundation, (949) 378-5253, mgee@rosefdn.org


Marilyn Bardet Biography

A California native, born and raised in San Mateo, I have been an activist for social justice and against war since high school. Graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970, BA in the humanities; in 1985, studied fine art and graduated with BA and Masters in Painting from Boston University School of Fine Arts, where I taught drawing and design. Actively opposed Vietnam War and all subsequent US-instigated “resource wars,”including “Star Wars.” Volunteered for Defense and Disarmament Institute in Boston in the 80’s; in the 90‘s, served as boardmember of the Mt. Diablo Peace Center, Walnut Creek; in 1995, helped lead successful fight against Koch Industries’ proposal for a petcoke storage and shipping terminal at the Port of Benicia intended to serve all 5 Bay Area refineries; worked on several Cal-EPA-led toxic cleanup projects in Benicia, including military site cleanup of formerly used defense site where live ordnance was discovered – a site intended for residential development by Ford Motor; in 2005, helped successful fight against Bechtel’s and Shell Oil’s proposal for a Liquified Natural Gas terminal and power plant at Mare Island, Vallejo; in 2000, when Valero bought the Exxon refinery in Benicia, helped found the refinery watchdog group, the Good Neighbor Steering Committee; since 2005, have served as board chair of Benicia Community Gardens, a grassroots non-profit that has established two community gardens, a local CSA program with Terra Firma Farm, and recently a first Benicia community orchard.



Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community

Good Neighbor Steering Committee

Benicia Community Gardens