When it comes to oil trains, the city is sending a strong message to Benicia.
Enjoying a flurry of compliments to the city from locals who are opposed to potentially explosive oil trains rattling through Davis, the City Council voted Tuesday to approve a letter that voices strong concerns to the Benicia Planning Commission about the Valero oil refinery’s plan to bring those trains through town.
Valero refinery wants to build out its capacity to unload oil from rail cars, increasing shipments to about 70,000 barrels of oil a day in two, 50-car-long shipments. The trains likely would run from Roseville to Benicia along the Capitol Corridor rail line that passes through Davis.
The basic process to do so goes through a laborious monthslong public airing, including a draft environmental impact report followed by a comment period that allows interested and concerned parties to weigh in.
A final EIR gets generated after that, then the issue goes to the Benicia Planning Commission, and finally to the Benicia City Council.
The council ratified a draft letter 4-0 with Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis recusing himself because of a potential conflict due to the proximity of his residence to the railroad tracks. City attorneys have contacted the state Fair Political Practices Commission for guidance.
The city letter raises concerns about the safety of current rail car designs that carry the oil, the draft environmental report’s failure to address federal emergency safety orders and a lack of information about where the oil might be temporarily stored down the rail line, especially in Davis.
Lynne Nittler, founder of the Yolano Climate Action Central, said Davis residents and the city are key to getting support from regional government partners.
“It was Davis that alerted the entire region,” she said.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews