Oil Trains: How to stay informed and be active

Posted: July 15, 2016 in Rail Transport of Oil
Tags: ,
Approximately 70 Davisites protested oil trains coming through our town as they marched from the train station in the blast zone to Central Park to watch "Near Miss in Mosier," a play about the derailment and explosion in Oregon just weeks before the July 9 rally.

Approximately 70 Davisites protested oil trains coming through our town as they marched from the train station through the blast zone to Central Park to watch “Near miss in Mosier,” a play about the derailment and explosion in Oregon just weeks before the July 9 rally.  Photo by Richard McAdam.

Concerned about Oil Trains passing through Davis?  Here are tips on ways to keep up-to-date on new developments.  The latest move by Valero takes the issue of federal preemption to the Surface Transportation Board in Washington D.C. and includes not only the Valero proposal in Benicia but the Phillips 66 project in San Luis Obispo and other west coast projects.  To be actively involved, you must stay informed.

A group of Davisites gathered on July 9th at the train station with signs urging a stop to the transportation of crude oil by rail.  They marched through the blast zone (the area within a half mile of the tracks) carrying a banner of an oil tank car that holds 30,000 gallons of toxic crude oil that can explode or spill into waterways if the tank is breached. Their signs read:  “No Crude by Rail”   “Our lives are on the Line”  “Stop Valero’s Dangerous Crude by Rail Project” “No More Train Disasters.”

“This Land is Your Land” with new verses

Protesters dressed in black as befitted the solemnity of a day to remember the 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec,  who lost their lives when an oil train exploded in their downtown.  They rallied at the Rotary Stage, where Jean Jackman led new verses on the danger of oil trains to “This Land is Your Land”  with guitar support from Phil Summers.  Note the words at the end of this article.

Supervisor Don Saylor spoke of the latest developments with the Valero proposal to bring 100 tank cars of crude oil to its Benicia Refinery daily.

Supervisor Don Saylor spoke of the latest developments with the Valero proposal to bring 100 tank cars of crude oil to its Benicia Refinery daily.

Don Saylor’s update

Supervisor Don Saylor provided an update to the ever-changing oil train story of the last three years.  Briefly, when the Benicia Planning Commission voted not to ratify the final EIR and not to certify the Valero proposal in February 2016, Valero appealed the decision to the Benicia City Council.  The Council quickly completed public hearings and reached a different conclusion, with 2 votes accepting the reality of federal preemption of the railroads and therefore voting to deny the project, and three votes most likely in favor of the project.  Valero introduced a surprise new element which the city accepted.  Valero has now petitioned the Surface Transportation Board in Washington D.C. for a ruling on federal preemption, and they included all the west coast projects.

Oil Train Theater

Finally, a group of oil train protesters performed an oil train theater piece drawing directly on voices from the near-disaster in Mosier, Oregon just a month before the rally.    Nine people who have written letters and given testimony for the last three years played parts in the play which drew audience applause at times.  Read the script with photographs here.

So, what can a concerned citizen do?  

  1. For searchable information on the entire Oil Train story in CA and the U.S., with a focus on the Valero project in Benicia, some attention on the Phillips 66 proposal in San Luis Obispo County and a thorough general overview of crude by rail , visit www.beniciaindependent.com
  2. For detailed information about the June 3rd oil train accident in Mosier, Oregon, read these newsletters from the San Luis Obispo group from June 8 and June 27 .  Read the Oil Train Theater Script titled, Close  Call  in Mosier, Oregon.
  3. For more information about the local efforts to stop oil trains, scroll down through entries at this site,  Yolano Climate Action
  4. Find all documents related to the Valero petition to the Surface Transportation Board in Washington D.C., including letters from the City of Davis/Yolo County/SACOG/Oakland/Berkeley, the regional Air Quality Management Districts and the Benicians for a Healthy and Safe Community here.

This may turn into a major case that could end up at the Supreme Court.

  1. To receive email oil train updates and alerts to write letters or give testimony in person, email  Lynne at lnittler@sbcglobal.net.
  2. To receive the monthly email Mesa Refinery Watch Group Newsletter regarding the Phillips 66 proposal for 80 tank cars 5 days/week in San Luis Obispo, contact Steve Dubow– sfdubow@charter.net.
  3. Read the Davis Enterprise and the Sacramento Bee. Both cover oil trains fairly consistently in some detail.
The Fire Chief of Mosier (played by Phil summers here) pledged to stop "insane" oil trains in the legislature. Photo by Judy Moores.

The Fire Chief of Mosier (Phil Summers) pledged to stop “insane” oil trains in the legislature. Photo by Judy Moores.

Make a Personal Pledge to a Renewable Future

I pledge to do my part to shift away from the use of fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy whenever possible.  I have checked the practices I intend to follow and post this pledge where I will see it often.

_____I will bicycle or walk for errands within a 3 mile radius, thus eliminating driving short distances.

_____I will make my next car purchase electric.

_____I will make my next car purchase a plug-in electric, and I will keep it charged for electric in-town driving.

_____I will attend Davis events on foot, by bicycle, by bus, or in a carpool to reduce my carbon footprint.

_____I will add rooftop solar to charge my electric car and/or to provide my electricity.

 

The Mayor of Portland, Oregon (played here by Elizabeth Lasensky) "crude oil cannot be safely transported by rail!" Photo by Judy Moores.

The Mayor of Portland, Oregon (Elizabeth Lasensky) said “crude oil cannot be safely transported by rail!” Photo by Judy Moores.

Save Us from Oil Trains 

New Verses to This Land is Your Land

By Raging Granny Ruth, SF Bay Area

Original  song by Woody Guthrie

  1. This land is your land, This land is my land
    We don’t want oil trains, Where we work & play
    If we don’t speak out, Against those oi-yul trains
    Big Oil is gonna have its way.

 

  1. This land is our land, They can’t co-opt it
    For greedy fat cats, To make a profit
    This land is our land, They can’t destro-oy it
    We CAN NOT let them have their way.

 

  1. As we were riding, The train this morning                                                                                                        I Looked out the window, and it was gorgeous
    But with crude oi-yul, It could be po-i-soned
    Let’s make sure we don’t see that day

 

  1. This land is your land, This land is my land
    From California to the New York island;
    From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
    This land was made for you and Me.

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