Tank cars sit on the tracks in Richmond.

Concerns are growing over the safety of transporting crude oil by train after a series of derailments, most recently last week in Virginia when 13 tankers fell off the tracks, sparking a fire and forcing evacuations. The Federal Railroad Administration has issued emergency rules and will reassess new safety standards for tank cars. In California, environmental groups are challenging crude-by-rail shipments to the city of Richmond. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of transporting crude oil by rail, as well as state and national efforts to improve safety.

Molly Samuel, science reporter for KQED
Suma Peesapati, staff attorney with Earthjustice, which filed an injunction to halt the shipment of crude oil into the city of Richmond
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association

  • Guest

    Never be afraid to sue when the monied class exhibits hubris and recklessness while putting the public at risk.
    Lawsuit Attacks Techie Luxury Bus System

    • thucy

      Great link, thanks for posting it.

  • Bob Fry

    The City of Davis, and I believe other cities on the oil train routes, are opposed to these also.

  • sflaniken

    Petroleum by pipeline or rail is a problem we can do something about. Climate charge is only one problem with the use of fossil fuels. Please remember last week’s Mercury News report on ocean acidification. A couple of feedbacks from this result…a darker ocean that absorbs more heat (light colored pteropods are affected) and as oceans become more acidic, the ocean does not absorb as much CO2…both lead to additional warming, fires, super storms, sea level rise, droughts, social unrest, etc. it’s time to move to clean renewable energy to protect life on the planet….plenty of jobs in that!
    At home we’ve moved to solar panels, hybrid and plug in cars, bus, rail and biking. We can do this!

    • ES Trader

      if or more likely when likely the oceans die, it will likely make this planet inhabitable for life except some bacteria and viruses before the rise in sea levels or the next big impact from outer space or the sun burning out,

      But realistically, wont that be inevitable anyway? The planet’s resources will eventually be depleted by an ever growing population?

      Don’t you think that is one reason why interplanetary travel is a goal for Elon Musk ? To get to Mars in his life time

      • sflaniken

        Thanks for responding, Kiyoshi. Yep, I guess it’s inevitable unless we wake up. There are plenty of fronts to make changes on…. we’ve got the unfortunate example of the prehistoric people of Easter Island being able to stand on the top of their island home and watch the last tree on their island being cut down. I would hope that we’ve made some progress since then in our ability to see and respond to trouble when we see it. Besides not everyone is going to fit, afford, or be invited onto Musk’s new transport…. and what could be more beautiful than the planet we’re living on…. it’s just a wonder! :~) I believe it’s past time to take care of what we’ve got.

        • ES Trader

          I agree change is an absolute necessity but judging from recent reports of 1/5 coeds experiencing rape still as an example, I think change by the whole world much less domestically or even locally to stop or reverse the direction is very unlikely

          • sflaniken

            Yep. We could just give up now. You’re right. Our choice isn’t it? It’s a lot easier….

  • Todd

    I believe the talk about California needing more oil and reducing the Nation’s dependence is a red herring. Please ask the Oil Industry reps if they’ll guarantee that 100% of the rail crude will stay in California? I have a feeling they plan on selling it overseas in high margin markets thus continuing the “shortage” in CA that keeps our prices high. I live by the bay and see full tankers leaving the area every week.

    • thucy

      I hope they ask your question.

      • Robert Thomas

        The question was asked and Ms Reheis-Boyd failed to answer. The host and the other guests apparently didn’t notice.

    • Jeanne

      Most of that crude is going to be exported to China. It is not for domestic use. That’s why we will continue to have high gas prices.

    • thucy

      Glad they asked your question, but did they just duck the substance of it in their “answer”?

    • Todd

      Indeed, I was a bit disappointed that the host didn’t grill the guest when she stumbled to come up with some sort of answer then danced all around the question. I clearly caught her off guard. It is my understanding that the crude from Tar Sands cannot even be refined in US refineries due to it’s quality,and 100% of it is destined for foreign markets. President Obama is trying to hold up the Keystone project to protect our domestic resources and is getting a lot of flack for it. However, every time some industry lackie says “get us off foreign oil” the media doesn’t call them on it. Let’s stay involved and demand that the oil refiners sign a guarantee that all California-produced oil and oil shipped in to “supplement” our needs be required to stay in the state. Let me know how I can get involved?

      Also, I don’t want to buy oil/natural gas produced from fracking – perhaps some sort of labeling scheme to give consumers a choice? I’m not sure whether or not this type oil can even be refined in our refineries.

  • Ben Rawner

    California need this Oil to drive the economy. Should we truck this oil in? That would probably be more dangerous? Why no allow tr oil in but tax it and use those revenues for alternative energies?

    • kiwiDave

      The points just being raised about the current state of rail infrastructure and the oversight of inspectors (1 inspector for 10 western states is truly pathetic) would tend to indicate the rail network isn’t capable of safety bringing in a highly dangerously liquid into the state. I take it that the oil industry isn’t offering to rebuild railways and pay for the oversight, so either it will be paid for by the public, or will get a whole series of Quebec style disasters.
      Trucking would seem to be safer under these conditions.

    • sflaniken

      Maybe you could help me understand why the economy is more important than survival…. Thanks- Forgive me if I’m not understanding your point. I’m concerned. In 250 years (1750-2000) the CO2 in the atmosphere increased 90 ppm. In the last 13 it has increased 30 ppm…. currently about 400ppm. How much more subsidies for oil and using taxes on oil to fund alternatives can we afford?

  • Robert Thomas

    Listening to this so far, I heard nothing unexpected or new.

    Then, in response to Ms. Reheis-Boyd’s assertion that crude fuels for California’s transportation fuel consumption come from a limited number of sources, Ms Peesapati responded by saying that we need to develop renewable energy for distribution through the grid.


    What percentage of the passenger and commercial fleet is not dependent on liquid fuels?

  • Ann Puntch

    To learn more about the projects in our area (with facts, not industry propaganda alone) attend the May 8th Community Forum ” Trains, Propane and Public Safety” with Antonia Juhasz, oil industry expert and others: Thursday, May 8th, 7 p.m. Rodeo Senior Center, 189 Parker Ave.

  • Robert Thomas

    How about an answer to Todd’s question??

  • Ann Puntch

    We are voting on Measure C to fund Doctor’s Hospital in San Pablo, Ca today-
    without a hospital- we have no way to deal with any crude explosion! Rickety railroad infrastructure and no hospital?

  • ES Trader

    I wont eliminate fossil fuel usage, no one brought up the fact that the Bay Area has very poor public transportation.

    It is inconvenient and time consuming. It’s nearly impossible to not own and operate a car to travel.

    A better system should have been designed long ago and I dont see any progress in planning and implementing the challenge of commuting,travel for entertainment and leisure etc.

    • sflaniken

      Poor public transportation, or people impatient to take a little time and get a bit more exercise….looked at next to soaring heat, dying oceans, starving people…. hmmm. Maybe you are arguing that our tax fund should continue to support fossil fuel industry instead of fixing our public transportation infrastructure?
      We’re so addicted, aren’t we… to convenience, to our cars, etc? I’ll argue that more and more people are taking public transportation. Does it take planning and more time? Yes, of course, but I believe it’s worth it. And until even more of us are on-board (Ha!) it’s not likely to get much better.

      • ES Trader

        Convenience is a key to success in retail and public transportation does not offer it.

        More than a few times, I missed an express bus, last one was at 7:30pm, while leaving work and catching BART, which forced me to wait for a local then transferring which resulted in getting home around 10pm, just enough time to get in bed to start all over again next morning waking early enough to catch a 5am express to get to BART. when I tried using metro bus to go to an appointment, the line from Market was packed, hot, driver was rude and didnt do it again. When I changed jobs and used the N Judah from Embarcadero out to the avenues it took nearly an hour to get to 19 Av & on return ride broke down 3 x’s in 3 mos which required disembarking walking to Market, waiting again for a street car w/space then taking another 30 min or so to get from Castro to Embarcadero.

        When I come in from E Bay on wknds to Davies or ATT BART is not an option. Ever try getting out to deYoung after BART.

        the 3/6/3 joke in banking when I began a banking career in the early 80’s was borrow at 3 lend at 6 tee off at 3.

        Banks closed at 3pm except Fri, and Sat hours, no way,

        Convenience is what consumers want and not just a clear conscience

        • sflaniken

          Sigh. Yes. That’s true. I want to argue we all need to change…. and I really believe we do. My husband and I have been making it work for us more and more often, but we only live an hours bus-ride from his work, he enjoys the reading time, and doesn’t have a lot of transfers. When we go to the city or Berkeley for entertainment we’re on weekend hours and can make BART or Caltrain work for us… and we love it. I volunteer and my time is much more flexible, though I must admit I don’t do public transportation much in the evenings…. safety is another issue in a country that doesn’t take care of people who live on the margins. That’s an entirely different issue… funny how they ultimately loop back to each other in interesting and varied ways…

          • sflaniken

            BTW, thanks for the dialogue. Despite your comments, it’s clear you’ve worked to use alternatives for one reason or another. :~)

          • ES Trader

            Yes i have along w/ recycling, composting,returning to a vegetarian diet, buying free range eggs, etc but I only have so much time and money to allocate and just cant support providers that dont adequately address my needs good luck and remain green a little mor to make up for the bozo’s that dont

    • Robert Thomas

      In the Eighties, I used to take the #62 from Los Gatos to the #36 at Naglee and Alameda and to Capitol Avenue Near Trade Zone in North San Jose, followed by a ten minute walk. About 90 minutes, each way.

      Later, I took #22 from Santa Clara to Naglee and Alameda, About 90 minutes also.

      If I had to stay late at work, #36 had limited service, so I’d walk about a mile to Old Oakland and Montague Expressway and wait for the unpredictable #66 to take me to 1st and Santa Clara in San Jose and then #22 home. About two hours, each way. Except when it was three hours.

      In the nineties, I walked a mile and a half to Lawrence CalTrain station, and then took the provided shuttle from Castro station in Mountain View to SGI on North Shoreline (where Google is, now). On average about ninety minutes, each way.

      No protestors were apparent at the Mountain View Castro CalTrain station where the little shuttle bus parked.

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