Thursday, October 9, 2014

Calif. AG Blasts CBR Project; Railroads Sue CA Over New Safety Rules

California Attorney General Kamala Harris blasts Benicia crude-by-rail project

Times on Line   By Tony Burchyns  10/08/14

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has blasted Benicia's environmental review of Valero's crude-by-rail project, claiming it underestimates safety risks and relies on an overly broad definition of trade secrets in failing to disclose the types of volatile crudes to be shipped.

In a letter to the city last week, Harris said Benicia's safety analysis was inadequate because it only considers "a fraction" of the rail miles that would be traveled by oil trains headed to the city's Valero refinery. Harris also faults the city for relying on Valero's "unenforceable" promise to use newer, safer tank cars that are not currently required by federal regulations.

The letter follows similar critical comments from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the Public Utilities Commission.....

.... Harris, whose duties include enforcing the California Environmental Quality Act, contends the city's project analysis fails to analyze air pollution impacts from the foreseeable change in crude oils that would be processed at the refinery. It also faulted the city for limiting the scope of its rail safety analysis to 69 miles of track between Roseville and Benicia, and failing to consider cumulative impacts from other crude-by-rail projects proposed in California.

The letter also criticized the city's finding that the risk of train spills of more than 100 gallons between Roseville and Benicia would be once in 111 years. Critics have said the analysis is flawed because it relies on rail safety data that predates the nation's crude-by-rail boom....
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Railroads sue California over new crude oil safety requirements 

George Warren, KXTV  10/08/14 

SACRAMENTO - The major railroads operating in California are suing the state to block implementation of new regulations imposed on crude oil transportation by rail.

Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway Company and the Association of American Railroads claim the new state law expanding the scope of state Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) is preempted by federal law.

Senate Bill 861, which took effect July 1, imposes a 6.5 cent fee on every barrel of oil entering California to fund the new oil spill protections. Previously, the fee was only charged on oil arriving by sea.....

...The railroads' lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, claims the federal government already prescribes elaborate safety standards governing rail car design and operation, capacity and type of crude being transported.

The lawsuit claims SB 861, which will bar railroads from transporting oil in California without a state-approved spill prevention and response plan, squarely overlaps existing federal rules....
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