Tag Archives: Revised Draft EIR (RDEIR)

New comments on Valero’s RDEIR available online

October 13, 2015

The City of Benicia has been receiving a FLOOD of incoming letters commenting on the City’s Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report on Valero Crude by Rail.  The City is posting these comments on its website, and the Benicia Independent is also posting them as they arrive at Project Review.  So far, three new PDF documents have been posted:

REVISED DEIR (RDEIR) Public Comments (period closes on October 30, 2014)

  • Public Comments October 3-9, 2015
    The link will download a 20-page document from the City’s website, a 1.1MB download, including a very interesting letter from the City of Gridley, California (pp. 2-5 in the PDF).
  • Public Comments September 26-October 2, 2015
    The link will download a 297-page document from the City’s website, an 11MB download.  Most of this is letters generated by the ForestEthics online comment generator.   (See also the Center for Biological Diversity online letter generator.)  Such support from EVERYWHERE is amazing and welcome!  To find individual letters of support or opposition, just open the PDF and search on a name.
  • Public Comments August 31-September 25, 2015A 545-page PDF.  The link will download a document on the City’s website, a 20mb download.  The PDF consists of:
    • 2 agency requests for extension of the comment period
    • 6 personal letters opposing the RDEIR and Valero’s proposal
    • 2 personal letters supporting the RDEIR and Valero
    • 253 letters from individuals from all over the country, generated by an online submittal form and mostly alike, also opposing the RDEIR and Valero’s proposal and received by the City on 9/25/15

OPEN LETTER: Oppose Valero Crude By Rail

Letter received by email from the author, Lawrence (Larnie) Reid Fox

To the Benicia City Planning Commission and City Council:

By Larnie Fox, October 12, 2015

I’m writing to request that you oppose Valero’s Crude Oil by Rail project.

The Revised Draft EIR states that:

    • Potential train derailment would result in significant and unavoidable adverse effects to people and secondary effects to biological, cultural, and hydrological resources, and geology.
    • Impacts to air quality would be significant and unavoidable because the Project would contribute to an existing or projected air quality violation and result in a cumulatively considerable increase in ozone precursor emissions.
    • Impacts to greenhouse gas emissions would be significant and unavoidable because the Project would generate significant levels of GHG and conflict with plans adopted for reducing GHG emissions.

What more do you need to know?

There have been more crude-by-rail explosions and spills in the last two years than in the previous 40 years. The new crudes are demonstrably more hazardous than the crudes that have been processed in our community in the past, and have led to many horrendous accidents in other parts of North America. Accidents can and will happen.

The Revised Draft EIR states that Valero proposes to use non-jacketed Casualty Prevention Circular (CPC)-1232-compliant tank cars.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said that the CPC-1232 standard is only a minimal improvement over the older tank DOT-111s. NTSB officials say they are “not convinced that these modifications offer significant safety improvements.”

There is overwhelming and passionate opposition to the project here in Benicia. There is also strong opposition from hundreds of individuals who live up-rail and from all over our state, and also from government entities including the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and our state’s Attorney General.

If there is a spill or an explosion and fire, I for one, do not want my community to be culpable. We need to show the state and the world that we stand for safety and environmental responsibility, even if it cuts into corporate profits and tax revenues.

The bottom line is that fossil fuels are going away, sooner or later, and Benicia will need to adapt, sooner or later. We need to take a longer-term and wider-scope view of the issue. We may reap short-term local gains by approving this project, but the cost is unacceptably high. In doing so, we would be putting our Industrial Park at risk, and inconveniencing them with the long trains. This area should be the economic engine for the next 100 years. We would be ignoring the legitimate concerns of communities up-rail from us. We would be responsible for putting environmentally sensitive areas at risk. We would be contributing to global warming and thus sea level rise, which poses a clear threat to our community and the rest of the world as well. We would be contributing to decimation of the old-growth forests in Northern Canada.

It’s up to us to guard our own welfare, and also, as a City, to be responsible citizens of California, the USA and our fragile planet.


Lawrence (Larnie) Reid Fox

Benicia Herald’s biased coverage of Planning Commission hearing

By Roger Straw, Editor, The Benicia Independent, October 1, 2015

Our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald, has undergone some dramatic changes following the loss of many key staff in early September.  Many readers have been extremely disappointed in the quality of reporting, content, layout and journalistic style.

On the front page of the October 1 edition, headline news above the fold presented a blatantly biased article, “Crowds jam City Hall to give comment on Valero’s Crude by Rail Project.”

  • Quotes:   The article quoted FOUR speakers in favor of crude by rail, and ZERO speakers against crude by rail.  The four quoted were:
    • Dan Broadwater, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 180
    • Don Cuffel, Manager of the Environmental Department of Valero
    • Joe Bateman, Valero Fire Chief, and
    • Chris Howe, Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Government Affairs, Valero
  • Local support – 16 speakers favored oil trains and the environmental report, while 31 speakers, mostly from Benicia, opposed.  The Herald’s brief report on opposing speakers began with, “Project opponents came from various Bay Area cities and discussed their concerns….”  Somehow (go figure) Valero management’s public accusation at the Hearing that local efforts are the doing of outside organizations appears as the opening line in the Herald’s coverage of opposition speakers.  Of the 31 speakers who opposed the project that night, only 4 were from out of town.  Three of the 16 persons who spoke in favor of the project were top Valero officials, and most of the others were current or past employees.
  • Column inches – news stories are measured by column inches.  This article gave 14.5 inches to pro-oil-train speakers (including quotes) and only 4.5 inches to anti-oil-train speakers.
  • Lack of a byline – there was no attribution as to who wrote the lead news article in the October 1 Benicia Herald.  The large photo was labeled “Courtesy photo.”  If someone OTHER THAN the Herald supplied the photo, is it possible that someone OTHER THAN the Herald attended the meeting and supplied the text?  We are left to wonder who wrote the article, and whether the slant was calculated or simply innocently biased.

Needless to say, I will not be posting this article on the Benicia Independent.  The Benicia Herald’s online presence has gone into hibernation since the staff turnover on September 13, so no link can be provided to this story.  If I find time, I may upload it to some obscure corner for you to verify my observations.

Roger Straw, Editor
The Benicia Independent

NOTE: A blog like The Benicia Independent is permitted and expected to present a strongly held perspective on select issues of the day.  A local print newspaper, on the other hand, has a journalistic responsibility to reserve such editorial judgment to its occasional editorials.  News should be news, and although pure objectivity is hard to come by, a local newspaper should make every effort in that regard.


Benicia Planning Commission – no more hearings for now

Repost from NBC Bay Area
[Editor:  IMPORTANT NOTICE: All speakers present were heard at the Tuesday, September 29 Planning Commission hearing, so previously scheduled additional hearings are now cancelled.  There will be no Planning Commission hearings on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.  Your comments on Valero’s Revised DEIR can be submitted in writing until October 30, 2015 – more info on sending written comments here.]

Residents Raise Concerns Over Valero’s Proposed Crude Oil By Rail Through Benicia

By Pete Suratos, September 29, 2015

A proposal to transport crude oil by rail through Benicia is not sitting well with residents, who came out in full force to a Tuesday night city planning commission meeting to discuss it.

The chances of the trains being derailed and something disastrous occurring is why residents are concerned with the proposal. Those who oppose the plan have until the end of October to let the city and Valero know their concerns.

During a special session at city hall late Tuesday, Valero pitched its crude-by-rail project to a packed house.

If approved, the refinery can receive up to 70,000 barrels of crude oil per day by rail, instead of by ship. The route would begin in Roseville and end at the refinery. In addition, the route will not replace the crude currently received through pipeline.

Valero said the use of rail is the only way to get the oil.

“The crude that we bring in by rail would offset the crude we bring from foreign sources that we bring by ship,” said Chris Howe of Valero.

The proposal, for resident Christine Caulder, is a risky proposition. Caulder attended Tuesday’s meeting and spoke as a concerned parent.

“When the air is so toxic you can’t go outside, I really can’t go to their school or I’m worried who’s sick or who’s not,” she said.

No actions on the project were taken by city leaders on Tuesday. Three more public hearings are scheduled — one on Wednesday and two more in October.  [CORRECTION: All speakers present were heard at this hearing, so previously scheduled additional hearings are now cancelled.  – RS]