Category Archives: Public Comment

Video highlights – City Council votes NO on industrial safety, June 19, 2018

Video taken from the City of Benicia, edited and reposted by Constance Beutel on YouTube
[Editor: Scroll down for 5 videos on various portions of the Benicia City Council’s June 19, 2018 review of industrial safety.  Council took over 5½ hours that night – here’s a shorter way to stay informed on the ISO decision.  – RS]

1. Presentation to support Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance Review
City of Benicia video, excerpt by Constance Beutel (32 min.)
On June 19, 2018 the Mayor and a Citizen Group presented a draft Industrial Safety Ordinance to Benicia City Council to recommend that they refer the ordinance to City Staff for expert review and comments. This video captures the presentation and rationale.

2. Citizen testimony to support Benicia Industrial Ordinance
City of Benicia video, excerpt by Constance Beutel (37 min.)
On June 19, 2018 the Mayor and a Citizen Group presented a draft Industrial Safety Ordinance to Benicia City Council to recommend that they refer the ordinance to City Staff for expert review and comments. Citizens who spoke in favor of the review of this ordinance are shown in this video.

3. Valero Opposition to a Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance
City of Benicia video, excerpt by Constance Beutel (9½ min.)
On June 19, 2018 the Benicia City Council was asked to refer a citizen draft Industrial Safety Ordinance to City Staff for expert review and comment. Valero spokespersons urged Council not to approve this request for review.

4. Council discussion and vote on ISO for staff review
City of Benicia video, excerpt by Constance Beutel (52 min.)
On June 19, 2018 the Mayor and a Citizen Group presented a draft Industrial Safety Ordinance to Benicia City Council to recommend that they refer the ordinance to City Staff for expert review and comments. This video captures the Council discussion and vote to reject the proposal.

5. City approves individual as “organized group” (2½ min.)
Finally here’s a quirky – if not outright stupid – segment of the meeting (taken directly from the City website).  As Larnie Fox put it, “We saw an embarrassing moment” when a citizen claimed to be an organized opposition group.  When asked to define “organized opposition,” the Mayor deferred to City Attorney Heather McLaughlin, whose baffling response (below) allowed the person to speak out of turn as an “organization of one.”  He could have but thankfully didn’t carry on for a full 15 minutes.  It is widely assumed that the City will redefine “organized” support and opposition before this precedent is acted upon again.  – RS, editor

Targa Withdraws Plans For Crude Oil Terminal In Baltimore

Email and press release from Jon Kenney, Maryland Community Organizer, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, July 11, 2016 11:03AM

Victory! Targa Resources formally withdraws permit to construct oil terminal in Baltimore!

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share some very good news to start the week. On Friday afternoon, Targa Resources formally withdrew their permit to construct a new crude oil shipping terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore, which will keep out hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil from being shipped through the city.

This was a result of the combined effort of many groups and community members, but lead the Environmental Integrity Project and CCAN. EIP submitted technical comments on their draft permit last year, and CCAN submitted hundreds of public comments and turned community members out to a public hearing. While there are still crude oil trains moving through the city, this is a great step forward in the fight.

Congrats to everyone involved! Please see the press release below for details, and be sure to send the news to your networks!




Decision by Texas-based Targa Terminals Reduces Dangerous Bakken Oil by Rail Through City

Media contacts: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, 443-510-2574 or
Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-2022,
Jennifer Kunze, Clean Water Action, 410-235-8808.

Baltimore, Md. – Environmental groups today applauded a decision by a Houston-based company to withdraw plans for a crude oil terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore that could have shipped over 383 million gallons of crude by rail through the city and the Chesapeake Bay.

“It is great news for residents of South Baltimore living near rail lines that Targa Terminals has now withdrawn its application for a crude oil terminal permit,” said Leah Kelly, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). “Bakken crude oil is volatile and potentially dangerous, and this permit would have allowed one 35-car train per day of Bakken crude to travel through South Baltimore neighborhoods to the terminal.”

Shipments by rail of crude oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota have been involved in several large explosions since 2013 following train derailments, including an explosion in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic that killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown area, and, last month, an explosion and fire in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge that resulted in an evacuation and, reportedly, cancelation of the last week of school in a nearby town.

Late on Friday, July 8, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) informed EIP that Targa had withdrawn its request for a permit to ship crude oil through its existing terminal in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore.

“This is a victory for Baltimore communities and for the climate,” said Jon Kenney, Healthy Communities Organizer with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Thanks to citizen and legal pressure, Targa has terminated its plan to ship more dangerous crude oil out of Baltimore, and bring a new surge of oil trains through our communities. However, we know there are still thousands of gallons of crude oil rolling through Baltimore every week, putting communities in danger. As a next step, the City Council must act on legislation requiring health and safety studies of oil trains.”

Targa Terminals applied in 2014 for a permit from MDE that would have allowed crude oil shipment and storage at its Fairfield terminal. The company specifically requested approval to handle

In May 2015, MDE put its review of Targa Terminals’ crude oil permit application on hold in response to legal comments filed by attorneys with EIP on behalf of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. MDE said at the time it was not moving forward with any further review “until the department receives additional information from the company.”

On June 29, 2016, Targa Terminals withdrew that application rather than provide the information required by MDE. In a responsive letter dated July 8, 2016, MDE advised the company that, until a crude oil permit is granted, the company is “prohibited from receiving, storing, and/or transferring crude oil at the Baltimore Terminal.”

“We’re happy and relieved that Targa Terminals has chosen not to pursue constructing a crude oil storage and loading facility in South Baltimore,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland State Organizer for Clean Water Action. “If it had been constructed, this would have increased the air pollution in an already-overburdened area of Baltimore, where neighbors just won the fight to stop construction of the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator. It also would have meant more trains carrying volatile crude oil through South and Southwest Baltimore, neighborhoods where people’s homes, parks, churches, and businesses are just yards from the tracks – putting them at risk of an explosion if one of those train cars derailed.”



Surface Transportation Board grants extension for public comments on Valero’s petition

By Roger Straw, June 10, 2016


On June 6, 2016, a formal request was filed with the Surface Transportation Board seeking additional time (until July 8, 2016) for replies to the Petition for Declaratory Order filed by Valero Refining Company.

The request was made by attorneys representing Benicians For A Safe and Healthy Community, Center for Biological Diversity, Communities For A Better Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, San Francisco Baykeeper, Sierra Club, and Stand. The petition sought

The STB granted the request on June 9.

VIDEO: Protest and public comments at Benicia City Council following the derailment in Mosier OR

By Roger Straw, June 8, 2016
[Editor: See also the Benicia Herald report on the protest and Council meeting.  – RS]
Protesters in Benicia CA following the derailment and explosion in Mosier Oregon. Sponsored by Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community

At its June 7, 2016 meeting, Benicia’s City Council heard comments from the public on the derailment and explosion in Mosier Oregon. A group of about 30 had gathered to protest oil trains at Benicia’s busiest intersection, East Second & Military. Many of the protesters then marched to City Hall where the Council heard their comments. See the video below for public testimony.

Those speaking against crude by rail included:

    • Constance Beutel
    • Marilyn Bardet
    • Planning Commissioner Steve Young
    • Alan ____
    • Judi Sullivan
    • Pat Toth-Smith
    • Community Sustainability Commissioner Kathy Kerridge
    • Giovanna Sensi-Solani
    • Hadieh Ellias
    • Cathy Bennett
    • Sue Kibbe
    • Phyllis Ingerson