Tag Archives: San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra

ABC7 News: San Jose public forum opposes plan for oil trains through East Bay

Repost from ABC 7 News
[Editor: Significant quote: “Phillips 66 says it must increase oil production in California and detouring trains around the Bay Area isn’t possible.”  – RS]

San Jose opposes rail shipments of crude oil

By Cornell Barnard, January 25, 2015

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — A plan to allow oil trains to pass through San Jose is facing opposition.

Phillips 66 would build a rail terminal at its Santa Maria refinery that would send trains with up to 80 cars of crude oil through Southern California and the Bay Area.

Millions of gallons of crude oil would move through the Bay Area weekly if this plan is approved. The city of San Jose opposes the idea and held a public forum at City Hall Sunday to educate residents.

Trains move through San Jose 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some carry people and others move freight. But a proposal by Phillips 66 could allow heavy crude oil to be transported by rail from Canada to a refinery in San Luis Obispo County, right through the Bay Area and Coleen Huffman’s downtown neighborhood. “Really scary, I mean the loud noise, the pollution, the fear of what if it crashed,” she said.

“This project if approved is a disaster waiting to happen,” Center for Biological Diversity spokesperson Valerie Love said.

The group held a public forum to educate residents about the dangers of so called oil trains. “We’re talking primarily about tar sands oil, heavy crudes from Canada, so this is one of the most toxic, the most carbon intensive, the dirtiest fuels on the planet,” Love said.

There have been accidents. A train carrying crude oil derailed near Quebec, Canada in 2013 killing dozens nearby.

Doug Sunlin has concerns about crude moving through large cities like San Jose. “Primarily the safety, if they are old cars they could have leaks,” he said.

In a statement, Phillips 66 says, “We have one of the most modern crude rail fleets in the industry, which exceed regulatory standards. Safety is our top priority.”

Phillips 66 says it must increase oil production in California and detouring trains around the Bay Area isn’t possible.

San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra opposes the idea, which he says won’t help keep gas prices low in the Bay Area. “It’s not benefiting us. It’s not lowering gas prices for Californians or Americans and yet we have to suffer the consequences.”

Folks signed a petition urging the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission to deny the oil train project.

San Jose council member urges rejection of Central California refinery’s crude-by-rail project

Repost from The San Jose Mercury News

San Jose council member urges rejection of Central California refinery’s crude-by-rail project

By Tom Lochner, Oakland Tribune, 11/26/2014

BERKELEY — As the deadline arrived for comments to an environmental report on a Central California crude-by-rail project, a San Jose City councilman got the early jump, announcing his opposition in a news release Monday afternoon.

The Phillips 66 Company Rail Spur Extension Project would bring as many as 250 unit trains a year with 80 tank cars plus locomotives and supporting cars to a new crude oil unloading facility in Santa Maria from the north or from the south along tracks owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Likely itineraries for the crude oil supplies coming from out-of-state include the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along the eastern shore of San Pablo and San Francisco bays that also carry Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor and Coast Starlight trains.

“This will allow mile-long oil trains carrying millions of gallons of explosive, toxic crude oil in unsafe tank cars to travel through California every day,” reads a news release from San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra. “These trains will travel through the Bay Area passing neighborhoods in San Jose, including Kalra’s District 2 in south San Jose. This proposed plan threatens the residents and families along the rail routes and also threatens the environment and local water supplies.”

Kalra continues by urging San Luis Obispo County to reject the project, saying, “The safety of our community members, our health, and our environment, should not be taken lightly.”

In March, the Berkeley and Richmond city councils voted unanimously to oppose the transport of crude oil by rail through the East Bay.

As of early Tuesday, Berkeley had not communicated to this newspaper its comments to the environmental report. San Luis Obispo County as of early Tuesday had not published what is expected to be a voluminous body of comments from public agencies, advocacy groups and individuals.

On Tuesday, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said, “Having 60-car trains going through our town, as many as two a day, is an area of concern for anyone in the Bay Area because of the vulnerability of the rail cars and the problems that would ensue if one of them would explode.”

The Phillips 66 Santa Maria refinery currently receives its crude oil supply via underground pipeline from locations throughout California, but with the decline in crude oil production in the state, it is looking to alternative supplies that would be delivered most practically by rail, according to the refinery website.

“The refinery currently uses trains to transport products, and refinery personnel have decades of experience in safely handling railcars,” the Santa Maria Refinery Rail Project page reads in part. “The proposed change will help the refinery, and the approximately 200 permanent jobs it provides, remain viable under increasingly challenging business conditions.

“Everything at Phillips 66 is done with safety as the highest priority.”