Stop Oil Trains Rally

Posted: June 30, 2016 in Rail Transport of Oil
Tags: , ,
A derailment and fire like the one in Mosier, Oregon could happen in Davis.

A derailment and fire like the one in Mosier, Oregon could happen in Davis.

All are invited to the second Stop Oil Trains Rally on Saturday, July 9th.  Meet at the Davis Train Station at 9:30am.  Bring a sign and wear black for the solemnity of the occasion.   Walk through the down town to Central Park to gather at the Rotary Stage (near the carousel) at 10:00am.  The program includes songs, an update by Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, and a Reader’s Theater Version of “Close Call in Mosier.” 

Our community is in danger from a possible oil train derailment resulting in fires, explosions, and oil spills.  Our climate is endangered by the burning of fossil fuels that the oil trains bring to us at great risk.  How can we instead embrace a future of clean energy and safe communities without the threat of oil trains?

Since September 2013, Davis has been aware of the possibility of oil trains traveling daily through our town on their way to the Valero refinery in Benicia or the Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo County.   Our city, our county, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (representing 22 cities and 6 counties in our region), our regional Air Quality Management Districts, many other agencies and environmental organizations, and the public have spoken and written of our many concerns about the proposed projects and their impact uprail during the intervening years.  Even our California District Attorney has weighed in multiple times.

But here we are, gathered again, and both projects are still pending with likely decisions scheduled for September.  We can’t let up our vigilance.

30 Protesters began at the train station.  Stop oil trains.

30 Protesters began at the train station in July 2015 with home made signs and a banner.  This year we’ll wear black to mark the solemnity of the occasion.

Join a rally on Saturday, July 9th to stop unsafe oil trains from passing through Davis.  Meet at 9:30 am in front of the Davis Railroad Station wearing black to match this somber occasion.  Bring signs or choose one of ours, or help carry our stop oil train banner through the streets to Central Park.

After a walk – or bike ride – through downtown, gather at the Rotary Stage (in front of the carousel) in Central Park for a program at 10:00 am. John Swann of Hardwater will lead us in the appropriate song, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land,” with new verses on the advent of oil trains.  Sing it with all your conviction.

Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor will update us on the ongoing and current efforts of our city and regional governmental agencies to protect uprail communities from the dangers of crude oil transport by rail.

Then the program gets more dramatic.  Just a few weeks ago on June 3rd, a 96-car train of Bakken crude oil train derailed just outside the small town of Mosier, Oregon which is along the National Scenic Area of the Columbia Gorge.  In all, 16 cars derailed and 4 cars burst into flame.  An elementary school had to be evacuated along with 125 residents nearby, and it was days before they returned to their homes.  42,000 gallons of crude spilled into the ground, the city wastewater system, and the nearby Columbia River.  They poured 1,500 gallons of water per minute for 8-10 hours on the remaining cars, first depleting the city water reserves, and then drawing from the river, to cool the remaining cars enough to prevent them from catching fire one after another.  For Mosier, it was a very close call.

A recent oil train accident in Mosier, Oregon, reminds us all why we have remained focused on this subject for over three years now in California and also across the United States and Canada.  The working group in San Luis Obispo put together a thorough and sobering summary of the Mosier scare covering the unfolding drama and follow-through at this link and this link.

The audience will experience a Reader’s Theater version of the June 3 oil train derailment and fire in Mosier.  The train runs just 200 feet past the town, just as the proposed Valero 100-car oil trains to Benicia and the Phillips 66 80-car oil trains to San Luis Obispo will run daily through down-town Davis.

The near miss in Mosier was life-changing for residents.  Their fire chief – who previously defended Union Pacific’s safety record – is now convinced there is no safe way to transport crude oil by trains, and he plans to fight to stop them.

The play ends with an open challenge, “What can we do in Davis?”    We can begin by thanking our public officials for passing state legislation and taking a protective stance on our behalf at each stage of the CEQA process, and now preparing responses to the Surface Transportation Board in Washington D.C. where Valero has petitioned for a ruling on federal preemption.

Citizens have more opportunities ahead to speak out or send letters in Benicia and San Luis Obispo.  To stay informed, there will be tables to sign-up for oil train alerts.

Finally, Cool Davis always reminds us to tend to our own transformation away from fossil fuel by walking, biking, riding Unitrans, or driving electric cars powered by solar rooftop.  Valero argued in their petition to the STB that since California is one of the largest users of cars in the world, their product – gasoline – is essential to the economy of the state, hence oil trains are a necessity.  Pledges to consume less gas will be available!

The program closes with a final song written for the occasion, “Valero.”

Contact Lynne at lnittler at with questions.

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