Category Archives: Stop Oil Trains Week of Action #StopOilTrains

2016 Stop Oil Trains Week of Action – Benicia March Sunday 7/3!

Repost from
[Editor:  You can observe the Stop Oil Trains Week of Action in Benicia by marching in the annual Torchlight Parade on July 3.  – RS]

Citizens Call for a Ban on Deadly Oil Trains at Events Across US and Canada

  • The 2016 Week of Action marks the third anniversary of the tragic July 6, 2013, oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people.
  • On Friday, June 3, 2016, an oil train derailed in Mosier, OR, forcing the emergency evacuation of a 220 children from a school 250-yards from burning oil tank cars.
  • Oil trains have proven too dangerous for the rails: 14 major oil train derailments and fires in the past three years, yet these dangerous trains still bring millions of gallons of toxic, explosive crude oil through cities and towns across the US and Canada.
  • Each year since then communities have marked the solemn anniversary with events in dozens of cities and towns during the Stop Oil Train Week of Action.
  • July 6-12, 2016, citizens will gather again at events across the US and Canada to demand an immediate ban on oil trains. We are calling on President Obama, Congress and Governors to take three urgent steps to solve this problem.
    1. Ban oil trains: There is no safe way to transport crude oil by rail.
    2. Deny all federal permits for oil train infrastructure: Stop the oil industry from expanding oil train traffic carrying the dirtiest, most dangerous crude.
    3. Protect the authority of local governments: States, cities and citizens must have the right to say no to oil trains.Uphold the authority of our cities and towns to protect the public safety, and to ensure first responders have the necessary information and resources to respond to oil train disasters.

Oil Trains are Too Dangerous for the Rails.

  • The extreme Bakken and tar sands crude that the oil industry moves on trains is more toxic, more explosive, and more carbon-intensive than conventional oil.
  • More than 25 million Americans live in the blast zone and mining and refining this extreme oil puts  millions more Americans and Canadians at risk.
  • 14 major oil train fires in three years proves that crude oil is too dangerous for the rails. In Mosier, the tracks were inspected just days before the derailment, and only luck and a windless day kept the fire from four burning oil tank cars from reaching homes and a nearby school.
  • Oil train traffic, which was practically nonexistent seven years ago, has grown by 4,000 percent and the oil industry is proposing to further increase traffic, build more oil train terminals, and build new refinery infrastructure for dirtier crude oil carried by train.
  • We don’t need any of the extreme oil that is moving by train. The explosive Bakken and tar sands crude that moves by train is a tiny percent of US oil consumption and oil companies export five to seven times more oil each day than they move by train. So stop the trains tomorrow and our energy supply is not changed at all.
  • As we move our economy to clean energy and solve climate disruption we cannot at the same time allow oil companies to bring Bakken, tar sands and other fracked oil — the dirtiest, most dangerous sources of oil — onto the market.

Environmental Justice: Our railways were built to connect population centers, not carry hazardous materials. Decades of housing discrimination means that 60 percent of the 25 million Americans who live in the blast zone are people of color.

Note on Terminology: The term ‘crude-by-rail’ is the oil industry’s neutered term (abstract and without agency) for the dangerous, deadly, explosive oil trains they send through our cities and towns. There’s no reason to use ‘crude-by-rail’ when we can talk about the absolute danger of crude oil trains and the culpability of the oil and rail industry and regulators who send them across North America.

HUFFINGTON POST: Top 5 Reasons To Ban Oil Trains Immediately

Repost from the Huffington Post

Top 5 Reasons To Ban Oil Trains Immediately

By Todd Paglia, Executive Director, Stand.Earth (formerly ForestEthics), 06/29/2016 01:32 pm ET

On Friday, June 3rd, a crude oil train traveled through the scenic Columbia River Gorge, a national treasure and one of the most beautiful spots in a country blessed with some of the most stunning places on Earth. It went slowly through the small town of Mosier, Ore. Children sat in class, no doubt looking forward to the weekend, people stopped by the post office, enjoying the rituals of small town life. Then the ground shook. Explosions rocked the area and a plume of thick black smoke snaked its way into the sky. The oil train had derailed a few hundred yards from that school, a few hundred yards from the city center. Four railcars spilled and caught fire — and tens of thousands of gallons of burning North Dakota Bakken crude created an inferno.

This disaster occurred as Stand and our many allies in the Crude Awakening Network were preparing for the third annual Stop Oil Trains Week of Action, planning dozens of events across the US and Canada between July 6-12 to mark the solemn anniversary of the tragic Lac Megantic oil train disaster on July 6, 2013. The Mosier derailment drove home, once again, why oil trains are too dangerous for the rails. And why Stand is asking President Obama for an immediate ban on oil trains.

Here are the top five reasons Stand, joined by hundreds of groups, community leaders, and elected officials, are calling for a ban on deadly oil trains.

1. 25 million Americans live in the oil train “blast zone”.
The US rail system was built to connect population centers, not move millions of gallons of toxic, flammable crude oil. But the oil industry is doing exactly that, sending explosive crude down the tracks right through our cities and by the homes of 25 million Americans. At Stand, we have mapped oil train routes with our Blast Zone map. You can use the map to see if your home, school, or office is inside the dangerous one-mile evacuation area. One clear finding from analyzing America’s blast zone: vulnerable populations like environmental justice communities and school children are clearly in harm’s way.

2. Oil trains can’t be operated safely.
Federal safety standards won’t improve oil train safety. Federal legislation, promises by the railroads, and federal regulations- weakened by years of interagency battles between the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board — have all come to very little. Former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Jim Hall, in a June 2016 op-ed advocating a ban on crude oil trains, put it simply: “Carrying crude oil by rail is just not a good idea.” That’s because it cannot be done safely. Period.

Thorough reporting by DeSmog Blog on the weak existing federal regulatory standards and the oil and rail industry’s failure to meet them demonstrates there have been no improvements on the safety of the 100,000 unsafe tank cars in the US fleet. Only a few hundred of these 100,000 dangerous tank cars have been retrofitted, and cars updated to the newest tank car standard will still puncture at just a few miles an hour faster than the current tank cars.

After 2025, there may be marginal improvements in the tank cars and procedures associated with oil trains. But trains will still derail, and crude will still leak and ignite.

3. Oil train fires can’t be controlled.
When an oil train derails at any speed over the puncture velocity of roughly 10 miles an hour a dozen or so cars typically come off the tracks, decouple and are thrown from their wheels. Tank cars are easily punctured, and the crude (either Bakken or diluted tar sands, both highly volatile) can either self-ignite or be sparked by a nearby ignition source.

Once the spilled oil from an oil train disaster ignites, the primary task of emergency responders is to evacuate the area due to toxic plumes, fire, and potential explosions. We write more about the difficulties here, but Bruce Goetsch, a county emergency manager in Iowa, had this advice: “Make sure your tennis shoes are on and start running.” Or listen to the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, which delivered a letter to Washington Governor Inslee on June 8 demanding an immediate halt to crude rail movement and stating that, “these fires are exceedingly difficult to extinguish, even under unusually ideal circumstances.”

4. We don’t need the oil these dangerous trains carry.
Oil trains in North America carry extreme fracked crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Saskatchewan, or diluted bitumen from tar sands deposits in Alberta. We don’t need any of this crude oil. According to the most recent information from the US Energy Information Administration, shipments of crude by rail represent only 2.5 percent of the 19 million barrel daily US oil demand. At the same time, the US exports more than five million barrels of oil per day. So the US is exporting ten times more than the 513,000 barrels of crude that is moving by rail each day. The crude moving by train contributes nothing to our energy supply. If we stopped all oil trains tomorrow Americans would never notice the difference at the gas pumps – but we would all be safer, especially the 25 million Americans living in the blast-zone.

5. Oil trains are taking us in the wrong direction.
The dangerous, unnecessary, carbon-intensive crude oil moving by train through North American cities and towns is a new phenomenon. Before 2008, crude oil rarely, if ever, moved by train. Oil companies see this oil as the future. We see a future where we leave extreme crude oil in the ground and use decreasing amounts of conventional oil as we transition to 100 percent clean energy.

The climate accords in Paris followed by the April 2016 United Nations resolution put the United States and the rest of the world on a clear, inevitable path toward reducing fossil fuels from our energy supply. These dangerous oil trains carrying extreme oil are, quite simply, not part of that future: they fail the public safety test, the energy security test, and the climate test.

Forty-seven people died in the Lac Megantic oil train disaster three years ago. Only incredible luck prevented Mosier, OR from being another Lac Megantic. It was a dead-calm day in one of the windiest part of the US, otherwise the fire could have spread quickly to more derailed cars, to surrounding forests, homes, and even to the nearby school. This was another close call, one of more than a dozen major oil train disasters over the last three years that could have been much worse. We need to end this unnecessary and unacceptable threat before our luck runs out.

This is not a radical request. In fact, the Governors of Oregon and Washington have asked for a moratorium on oil trains. Join them — and Stand: Please join us in asking President Obama for an immediate ban on oil trains.

#StopOilTrains Week of Action! July 6-12th

Two emails, first from Ethan Buckner and a second from Vanessa Tsimoyianis …

From: California Oil Trains Network
On Behalf Of: Ethan Buckner
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 1:03 PM
Subject: Sign on: #StopOilTrains Week of Action!

With recent delays on decisions in SLO and Benicia, now is a more critical time than ever to demonstrate the power of our movement here in California to stop oil trains and keep extreme oil in the ground.

Last year, we had 12 amazing actions that drew over 2,000 people all across the state. Can we make that happen again???

Here’s a challenge: respond now and let everyone else know what you’re planning in your community. The first group to get an action up on the map at gets beer from me!

Excited to make this happen together!



From: Vanessa Tsimoyianis
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 12:57 PM
Subject: Sign on: #StopOilTrains Week of Action!

Despite the threat of explosions and toxic air pollution, oil trains continue to pass through our cities and towns, by schools and stadiums, and over our drinking water sources. People have the right to know where and when these trains are running — and they have the right to say no.

This July 6-12th — for the 3rd year in a row — over 100 communities are taking the fight to #stopoiltrains to the federal and state government, and to the rail and oil industries. 

With only 7 weeks until the #StopOilTrains Week of Action, here’s how to make this year the best year yet!

Host or join an event at

Recruit event hosts/RSVPs via email & social media

  • Post on Facebook

This July 6-12th, we will stop oil trains. Want to host an event in your community? Sign-up at to your event an on the map! Together, we’ll take action across North America to #StopOilTrains! (graphic attached)

Will you join us to help protect communities and the climate? Together, we’ll take action across the US and Canada to #StopOilTrains! Sign-up at (graphic attached)

  • Tweet!

This July 6-12, we’re taking action to #StopOilTrains. Sign-up to host an event at #StopOilTrains

This July, we’re building people power to #stopoiltrains & move beyond extreme oil. Join us —>

Become a partner, and launch as soon as you can

  • Once signed up, you’ll be added to the Crude Awakening Network list ( You’ll receive general updates and sample content every week.

Build the Buzzzz

  • Let all the coalitions and lists you’re a part of know about the #StopOilTrains week of action.
  • Create and share content — blogs, posts, video, graphics, etc. Let us know if you need support with this!

Let’s #StopOilTrains, together.

Ethan, Alex, Vanessa and the rest of the Stand Team

Oil train organizing in Davis, California

Repost from an email, Lynne Nittler, of Davis, CA
[Editor:  Lynne Nittler and her friends at Cool Davis and Yolano Climate Action do a great job of organizing.  Davis is a primary “uprail community” that would be at high risk if Valero Benicia Refinery’s Crude By Rail proposal is permitted.  I appreciated Lynne’s recent update and summary, below.  – RS]

Oil Train: photos, Ca Energy Commission powerpoint, & actions

From: Lynne Nittler
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:15 PM

Dear oil train friends,

1.  July 11 Stop Oil Trains Action –  photos

On July 11, over 80 Davis residents turned out to remember the 2013 oil derailment that decimated Lac-Megantic, taking 47 lives.  Davis faces the threat of a similar accident.  Currently, at least one oil train of Bakken Crude per week passes through Davis headed to the Bay Area.  Two more 100-car trains per day are planned for the near future for the Valero Refinery in Benicia and the Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo…unless citizens stop them.

The Davis Stop Oil Trains action was one of many during the Week of Oil Train Action.  Check out photographs from actions across the country here.  Look for Davis!

See our own review with photos here:

2.  Review of July 11:

Locally, the ForestEthics map shows endangered homes and businesses along 2nd Street including the police station, Carlton Plaza Senior Living and Rancho Yolo.  The entire Davis downtown is vulnerable along with parts of UC Davis campus and apartments complexes along Olive Drive.

The July 11 Vigil and Rally highlighted public opposition to oil trains passing through Davis. Too many residents live in the oil train blast zone, the one mile evacuation zone recommended by safety officials in the case of an oil train derailment and fire. ForestEthics calculates that nationwide, 25 million Americans live in the blast zone.

Wearing fiery red, yellow and orange shirts, Davisites met at the train station and walked through the Davis blast zone downtown to the Rotary Stage in Central Park.

We sang feisty songs led by the Raging Grannies.  We’ll be starting a group in Davis.  Let Lynne know if you’re interested.

Mayor Dan Wolk explained the city council’s resolution opposing oil by rail, available at

City Councilman Lucas Frerichs spoke on the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s nearly unanimous decision to confront the issue.  SACOG is composed of 22 cities and 6 counties.

At the state level, Senator Lois Wolk shared the past and present legislative responses to the sudden surge of crude-by-rail transport into California aimed at protecting the public as well as sensitive habitat and waterways.

Supervisor Jim Provenza and Damien Luzzo focused on the extraction side of the issue in Yolo County.  Damien offered his story about how he came to oppose fracking at and the Pledge of Resistance at  Sign his petition to ban fracking!

3.  Urgent Action:  Urge Assemblyman Bill Dodd to support SB32 & SB350!   Information on the proposed Yolo ban on fracking were available as well as a letter to Assemblyman Bill Dodd urging him to support two critical climate bills due for a vote in mid-August:

  • SB32 extending our CA carbon reduction bill, and
  • SB350 aiming for 50% lower car emissions, 50% greater building efficiency, and 50% more solar and wind-generated electricity  by 2030.

4.  Conclusion:

There is NO safe way to transport extreme tar sands and Bakken crude. Two years after Lac-Mégantic, oil trains keep exploding and carbon pollution keeps rising.  Oil trains are a disaster for our health, our safety, and our climate.

Given the unresolved dangers of crude oil transport by rail and the overload of carbon emissions already in the atmosphere, a more prudent path is to leave all extreme crude in the ground, transition to clean, renewable energy, and practice energy conservation in an effort to reverse climate change and live sustainably on a finite planet.

5.  Next oil train actions:

Powerpoint by CA Energy Commission: Read attached, a thorough and up-to-date powerpoint, to educate yourself on national and state oil and crude by rail issues in CA.  Excellent resource!

Santa Maria refinery in San Luis Obispo:  We are waiting for a hearing announcement where we can testify.

Valero Refinery in Benicia:  The revised DEIR will be released on Aug. 31 for a 45-day written public comment period.  Our letters will be crucial when the Planning commission and late the City council makes their decisions whether to finalize the EIR and permit Valero’s rail spur.