Category Archives: Pittsburg Defense Council

Oil Train Victory in California’s East Bay – Wespac Application Withdrawn

Repost from the Contra Costa Times
[Editor:  A huge victory for our friends across the water!  Congratulations to the Pittsburg Defense Council and everyone who worked so hard to STOP WesPac.  See also: Reuters coverage.  – RS]

Pittsburg: Proposed WesPac oil-by-rail shipping terminal is dead

By Sam Richards, 12/09/2015 06:37:16 AM PST

PITTSBURG — Plans to convert a moribund PG&E tank farm into a regional oil storage facility appear dead after the company proposing the project backed out, according to a city report.

WesPac Midstream LLC’s proposed Pittsburg Terminal Project had been in development on and off for the past four years.

WesPac on Nov. 16 “submitted a formal request to withdraw their application completely and terminate all work on the project,” according to the city report released Tuesday afternoon. No explanation was given for the Houston-based company’s decision.

In a voice mail, City Manager Joe Sbranti said Tuesday, “They didn’t give us a reason; they just withdrew it.”

Art Diefenbach, WesPac’s Pittsburg project manager, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

In April, WesPac eliminated a proposed element of its project, withdrawing plans for loading as many as five 104-car oil trainloads a week at the Pittsburg facility. Diefenbach said at the time that the “regulatory environment” surrounding rail shipments of crude oil made it impractical to launch such trains.

The city report made no mention of oil prices, or whether they had an effect on WesPac’s decision. But at $37.51 a barrel Tuesday, prices are at their lowest since February 2009, down from almost $108 a barrel on June 14. The low oil prices have rocked the stock markets in recent days.

He also said then that protests against the crude oil trains, locally and nationally, factored in to the decision to abandon the rail proposal.

The old tanks are less than a half-mile from hundreds of houses and apartments on West 10th Street and in the downtown area between Eighth Street and the waterfront.

The project drew staunch opposition from various area environmentalists, as well as the Pittsburg Defense Council group. Reasons for opposition were myriad, critics said, ranging from the threat of an explosion at the terminal to prospective ground pollution issues to the vapors from the storage tanks.

Kalli Graham said the local group Pittsburg Defense Council, to which she belongs, had been fighting the oil terminal proposal since its inception, collecting more than 5,000 signatures against it in the process and even getting state Attorney General Kamala Harris to weigh in against it.

“WesPac had a big fight on its hands; there is pretty much no one in Pittsburg that wanted this,” said Graham, whose group was spreading the news among its followers Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t have to be worried about it anymore.”

City Council members Pete Longmire and Will Casey said Tuesday the council never received enough details about the project to make informed decisions on the worth of the project; even after four years of start-and-stop proposals, it was still early in the planning process.

“I was neutral on the project,” Longmire said. “I know this (WesPac) decision will make a lot of people in our city happy. But there are people in our city who wanted it to come, with the jobs it would have provided.

“The knife cuts both ways,” Longmire said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Packed house for WESPAC scoping meeting in Pittsburg CA

From an email by Pittsburg Defense Council

Wow! What a turn-out!

From: Pittsburg Defense Council
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:00 PM

A massive THANK YOU! to everyone who attended the Scoping Meeting at Pittsburg City Hall yesterday evening. The room was packed and the meeting ran for more than two hours, with the public comment period taking up most of that time.

All of the speakers brought articulate and well-researched comments and questions, and the atmosphere was one of respect and consideration. We were all incredibly impressed and honored to be in such great company.

The next step is to make sure all of our questions about the environmental impact of the proposed WesPac project are considered in the report analysis. The only way to do this is to write a public comments letter – you can email it or send it ‘snail mail.’  …MORE (Including guidelines for letter writing)

Pittsburg: School trustees take stand against WesPac oil-by-rail project

Repost from The Contra Costa Times

Pittsburg: School trustees take stand against WesPac oil-by-rail project

By Eve Mitchell  |  05/07/2014

PITTSBURG — Pittsburg school district trustees have taken a stand against the proposed WesPac oil storage and transfer project.

The resolution approved by a 5-0 vote at Wednesday night’s meeting carries no legal power to stop the project, but it is yet another blow to a developer’s plan to transport domestic crude oil by rail cars to storage tanks, from where it would be piped to local refineries.

The resolution originated with district trustees after a presentation on the project made in March by project opponents.

“I don’t think anybody on this board is against industry,” trustee Vince Ferrante said after the meeting, adding that recent reports of crude-by-rail explosions are a matter of great concern.

“We really have a focus on the children. It doesn’t end when they walk out of the classroom,” Ferrante said. “The city has done a wonderful job developing downtown. This is a situation where we felt this project may not fit because of its proximity to residences, churches and schools.”

The board’s action is a bold statement, said Lisa Graham, a member of the Pittsburg Defense Council, which is fighting the WesPac project. “It has an amazing impact because it is a very significant body that represents lots of people, students, faculty and families,” she said. “(Trustees) have made a very bold and defensive statement to protect their constituents.”

The resolution calls on the Pittsburg City Council and other local, state and federal government agencies to categorize the WesPac project as “unequivocally contrary to public health and safety and beyond mitigation, and declare that it should not be placed within Pittsburg nor anywhere in Contra Costa County.”

Mayor Sal Evola disagreed with the resolution.

“The school board’s action is outside of their purview, and it is premature. I feel there is a process the city is obliged to abide by to review all of the proposal and then make an informed decision,” he said.

“One may question if the school board is out of line. Their action crosses the line between school business and city business. … We don’t take up resolutions on their issues. I don’t feel the school district should take up a position on our issues, especially while the project is under review.”

The $200 million waterfront project, which would be built near homes, schools and churches, would bring in an average of 88 million barrels annually of domestic crude oil by rail, and imported crude by marine vessels, to a 125-acre storage facility next to what is now the NRG power plant. The oil would be stored in 16 upgraded or new storage tanks that once stored fuel oil for a former PG&E power plant more than 25 years ago.

Project supporters say it would help refineries take advantage of a domestic oil boom at a time when California production is falling. WesPac officials have said the project would be safe, address environmental concern raised by opponents, create jobs and provide $800,000 in yearly property tax and tidelands lease revenue to the city.

In February, the City Council voted to reopen the project’s public review process in response to safety, air quality and other environmental concerns raised by residents. A new timeline for the review process is still being worked out by city staff.

The state Attorney General’s Office wrote in a January letter that the draft environmental impact report failed to disclose the sources of the crude oil and their environmental impacts, which made the entire document inadequate.

However, in an online presentation about the project, WesPac has said the domestic crude would come from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Colorado, west Texas and New Mexico. Bakken crude oil has been involved in several recent explosions while being moved by rail.