Repost from Diane Bailey’s blog, Switchboard, Natural Resources Defense Council
California Attorney General Tells Major Oil Terminal Developer, WesPac, to Hold Up in Pittsburg
Posted January 17, 2014 by Diane Bailey in Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment,Moving Beyond Oil
The California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, sent a stark letter to the City of Pittsburg this week warning of “significant legal problems” with the documentation around the proposed WesPac mega oil terminal. The eleven page letter noted “fundamental defects” and “errors” in the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report for the 242,000 barrel per day rail and marine terminal for failing to do the following:
- Adequately disclose and analyze local air quality impacts to the already impacted community of Pittsburg;
- Consider the effects to other Bay Area communities of refining the new crudes;
- Propose and analyze feasible mitigation that could reduce local air quality, impacts;
- Adequately disclose and address the risk of accidents that could result from transportation and storage of the new crudes;
- Fully disclose and consider mitigation for the Project’s climate change-related impacts; and
- Consider a reasonable range of feasible alternatives that could reduce the Project’s significant impacts.
The letter urges the City of Pittsburg to correct these problems before moving forward. However, these issues arise from fundamental and serious environmental, health and safety flaws that are inherent to the project. NRDC together with dozens of other advocates, civic leaders and thousands of residents have raised these issues repeatedly over the past few months as awareness of the project has grown. A rally and march last weekend brought hundreds out to demonstrate their pride in Pittsburg and opposition to the WesPac project.
This Tuesday, January 21st, another rally is planned in front of City Hall (65 Civic Avenue, Pittsburg) at 5pm before the City Council meeting. Please come show your support for a healthy and safe Pittsburg, before the city moves forward with this dirty and dangerous oil terminal. Pittsburg deserves better.
The California Attorney General office has weighed in on the failures of the Pittsburg WesPac recirculated EIR. This could be important for us in Benicia. See Ltr to POLLOT 1-15-2014 date revised
Marilyn Bardet writes that this letter “gets at the lack of cumulative analysis of emissions impacts and other potentially catastrophic risks to Pittsburg residents in the immediate vicinity of WesPac’s proposed terminal, but also, the ‘cumulatively considerable’ impacts (the fallout, including exponentially increasing risk to public health and safety) of delivering increasing quantities of ‘extreme crudes’ for processing at Bay Area refineries.”
The Attorney General’s letter is useful to us in Benicia as we prepare our remarks and comments for the Draft EIR on the Valero Crude by Rail proposal.
Marilyn also pointed out another example of a discussion of how to account for cumulative impacts, an excerpt from a DEIR review of “Grizzly Bluff Natural Gas Field Development Project” in Humbolt County: http://co.humboldt.ca.us/planning/smara/docs/fg-section-4-5-6.pdf
Detailed testimony calling for an EIR
Valero’s proposed rail terminal came before Benicia’s Planning Commission on July 11. The public hearing was a critical moment for citizen concerns to be heard, and heard they were. Many Benicians and Bay Area experts asked for a more thorough process of review than the current “Initial Study” and “Mitigated Negative Declaration” prepared by City staff and an outside consultant. Over and over again, the Commission heard requests that they require the project to undergo a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Valero supporters were present and gave their green light to the project, citing the many ways that the company serves their interests and those of Benicia.
Commissioners raised excellent questions, but Valero and City staff chose to delay any attempts at giving answers until they have had more time to prepare carefully studied responses. Staff responses are promised by Friday, August 2.
At the end of the meeting, City staff assured Commissioners and the public that additional comments on the project would be welcome, but then indicated that comments on the Initial Study and Negative Declaration were now closed. I was a bit confused by this. For now, if you want to comment, send a letter or email anytime prior to the next Commission meeting on August 8. Your PRESENCE at the meeting will speak even more loudly. Please plan to attend.
Written comments may be sent to City Manager Brad Kilger by email email@example.com with a copy to the Community Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.