Category Archives: Significant and unavoidable risks

LETTER OF OPPOSITION: Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna

By Roger Straw, March 31, 2016

This morning, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna sent the Benicia City Council this letter of opposition to Valero’s oil trains project.


The EIR identifies that trains accessing the project would traverse Sacramento, including the heavily populated downtown area that I represent. It would cross numerous creeks and rivers, and run immediately adjacent to and through vulnerable residential neighborhoods. A rail accident resulting in oil spills, fire or a toxic explosion could have disastrous life safety, health, environmental and economic consequences. For these reasons, I believe an increase in oil train traffic from this project poses an unacceptable risk to Sacramento County residents and the environment.

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

Submit your comment: No oil trains in Benicia, no oil trains in California

Repost from ForestEthics
[Editor:  The link here will take you to ForestEthics’ excellent AND EASY sign-on page, where you can submit your thoughts, concerns and questions  to the City of Benicia.  This is critical NOW, as the Benicia Planning Commission considers whether to permit a new oil train facility in California.  – RS]

Submit your comment: No oil trains in Benicia, no oil trains in California

STOP Crude By Rail in Benicia California!

Right now is a critical moment in the fight to stop oil trains in California. Oil giant Valero wants to build a massive oil trains terminal at its Benicia refinery.

Act now to urge Benicia’s decision makers to reject Valero’s proposed oil train terminal.

Should Valero get its way, oil trains carrying explosive and toxic extreme crude will travel daily through Northern California – including right behind California’s state capitol building – en route to the Benicia refinery. The project’s environmental review even admits that impacts from “hazardous materials” will be “significant and unavoidable.” This risk is unacceptable.

Aside from the public health and safety dangers of oil trains, we know that this project is a disaster for the climate. Building a new oil train terminal now locks Benicia into decades of using some of the most carbon-intensive oil on the planet: Canadian tar sands and fracked North Dakota Bakken crude. At a time when wildfires are raging and the drought continues to worsen, our communities need to invest in safe, healthy, clean energy projects that build climate resilience.

Submit your comments now: No oil trains in Benicia, no oil trains in California.

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to support grassroots organizing led by Benicians for a Safe & Healthy Community as we prepare for upcoming public hearings on Valero’s oil trains proposal. We hope you consider joining us by attending the Planning Commission hearing on September 29 or volunteering with the campaign.

Thanks for all you do,

Ethan Buckner
ForestEthics Extreme Oil Campaigner