Still time to participate in Valero-Benicia Oil Train Decision


Richard 2nd St. oil crs 1-9-14 15by Lynne Nittler

After three years of study, the Benicia Planning Commission voted not to certify the final EIR and denied the Valero Crude-by-Rail Project on February 11. This decision came about through the sustained efforts of The Benicians for a Healthy and Safe Community, with consistent support from individuals in Davis and Sacramento who wrote letters and testified during all the stages of the Environmental Impact Review process.  The involvement of many uprail agencies (seven Air Quality Management Districts, lawyers from Sierra Club, NRDC, Forest Ethics,  Stanford Law Center, the CA Attorney General, etc.) and governmental bodies (City of Davis, Yolo County, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, etc.) were instrumental in the Planning Commissioners’ decision-making.  Many hundreds of pages of written comments were submitted.

Valero appealed the decision to the Benicia City Council.  Public testimony will be on April 4, 6 and 19.

So where do you stand on the Valero Crude-by-rail Project?

After three years of hearing about the issue, are you ready to put in some time to protect Davis from the multiple dangers 100 tank cars of crude oil pose as they enter CA on stretches of high risk rail (think Donner Pass, Feather River Canyon, and Dunsmuir), travel over pristine wilderness areas and clean rivers, that become our drinking water, until they roll through Sacramento at only 40 miles per hour since it is a more populated metropolitan area.  They can go faster through Davis, which is not so dense in population, pass Jepson Prairie Preserve and head out across Suisun Marsh before the crude reaches its destination at the Valero Refinery.

Concerned Davis residents are encouraged to write their specific concerns to the Benicia City Council.  Hints for letter-writing ideas and where to send the letters are found at the website below.

Residents are also invited to reserve a space on the bus heading to Benicia on April 4.  There will be a pickup at Caffe Italia parking lot at approximately 5:15pm to arrive in Benicia around 6pm.  The bus will leave Benicia at 9pm.  Riders do not need to testify.  We need a large Davis contingent present to show our concern about the prospect of oil trains coming through our downtown.

For more details, read “Update” and “Ride the bus” posted at  Contact Lynne at


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8 thoughts on “Still time to participate in Valero-Benicia Oil Train Decision”

    1. Alan Miller

      Let me get this straight:  you want oil trains coming through Davis?

      OK, let’s hear it . . .

      By the way, have you watched the videos of La Magentic?  Cassellton?  West Virginia? . . . etc.  “Can’t happen here” . . . is that what you mean by support?  Like:  “UPRR probably won’t derail and ‘splode a train here, so we should support Benicia/Valero’s economy?”

      And by support, do you mean support it blindly, without demanding of Valero, Union Pacific, Benicia that a condition of any such project be implementation of Positive Train Control on all trains first, or at least upgrade the mainline crossover near 2nd & L Streets so an engineer forgetting to slow to 10mph for a left-handed crossover doesn’t accidentally derail his train and incinerate central Davis?

      Is that what you mean by support?

      Let’s hear it . . .

      By all means, join everyone on the bus on Monday, and come support the Valero Oil Project. It should make for an interesting conversation on the way down there on the bus.

        1. Alan Miller

          “support the project” — either stating support for Valero or a mis-speak.

          But even our mayor, early on at least, tempered his opposition saying he didn’t want to hurt the economy of a nearby city.  (If I mis-stated that paraphrase, I’m open to correction – don’t feel like spending all day going through city council video archives for the specific wording.)

  1. Frankly

    I would prefer oil by pipeline.  But since the political left led by king Obama will not allow that, we will have to support oil by rail and truck.

      1. Alan Miller

        I’d love to end the mass use of burning oil for transportation, and I’d love to end drug addiction.

        But, dear DP, you don’t end an oil-dependent culture by stopping transport, you do it by changing the entire transportation infrastructure/paradigm, one vehicle at a time . . . quite an undertaking!  Just as you don’t stop drug addiction by shooting down planes crossing the Mexican border, you do it by treating the addict, one addict at a time . . . quite an undertaking!

    1. Alan Miller

      Agree, much prefer pipeline.  It isn’t just Obama, though that’s true in the case of Keystone, which doesn’t go within 2000 miles of Benicia.  The other problem is that rather than build a fixed-route pipeline ready in many, many years, the oil companies want the flexibility of rail, which allows sources and refineries to be changed with the market.  I’m not defending that at all, but it is a reality of the economics.

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