Valero attorney claims that Benicia APPROVED Crude by Rail on Sept. 20!!

By Roger Straw, October 3, 2016

Incredible: “The permit is therefore approved by operation of law.”

In yet another bizarre legal maneuver, Valero’s attorney John Flynn sent a letter to the Mayor and members of the City Council on October 3, claiming that by various acts of commission and omission, the City Council on September 20 failed to properly deny Valero’s permit, and that therefore the permit is “approved by operation of law.”

The logic is twisted, but stick with me.

Flynn is claiming that “the City Council’s action of September 20 violated both state and federal law” on a variety of grounds:

  • Timing – Valero claims that a decision with proper findings in support of denial was required by September 20, but the Council sent staff back to revise the findings in the draft resolution of denial.
  • Council members’ statements – Valero claims that Council members were required to verbally state the grounds upon which they voted to deny the project, and that they ONLY stated concerns about rail-related impacts, which Valero continues to claim are preempted from consideration under federal law.  Note here that Valero re-states its failed argument that even ON-SITE rail impacts are preempted.
  • Reliance on a letter received on September 20 – Valero claims that the City may not rely on information in a letter from the law firm Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo in framing its arguments for denial. Poor Valero states that it (and the public) didn’t have a chance to rebut the letter. This from the company which sent two last-minute unrebuttable letters which City staff included in the Council’s agenda packet!
  • Reliance on the Surface Transportation Board letter – Valero claims that Council relied on the STB’s dismissal of Valero’s petition in its decision, and that Valero and the public never had an opportunity to comment on the STB’s decision. Valero demands that the City not refer to anything in the federal agency’s decision when drafting findings for denial.
  • Council’s request for staff to edit its draft resolution of denial – Valero claims that any editing of the draft resolution would amount to “post hoc rationalizations.”  Baloney. It’s done all the time.
  • The letter goes on and on, but I will leave it to the City Attorney and others to flesh out Valero’s twisted bullying tactics.

IMPORTANT: The letter concludes by foreshadowing a lawsuit against the City:

“The transcript of the September 20 hearing will no doubt clearly establish for a Court that the only grounds invoked by the Council for denying Valero’s application were rail-related grounds, and that any other grounds invoked in the written findings proposed by staff and by Adams Broadwell are no more than baseless afterthoughts, in a desperate bid to deny Valero’s permit application, despite the lack of any legal or factual bases for such a denial.”