Chief Caleen Sisk: It’s All One Big Project

“It does not make sense that people are separating the water puzzle into individual pieces, such as: the raising of Shasta Dam, Proposition 1, the Delta tunnels, BDCP, Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flat, CALFED, Delta Vision, BDCP, OCAP, the Bay Delta, Trinity/Klamath Rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and water rights,” said Chief Sisk. “It is all one BIG Project.”


Tribal Leaders, River and Groundwater Protectors Oppose Prop. 1 

by Dan Bacher    Monday Oct 27th,   IndyBay

Tribal leaders and river and groundwater protection advocates on Monday, October 27, announced their strong opposition to Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown’s controversial State Water Bond, at a news conference in Redding

The Prop 1 opponents spoke and answered questions at Lake Redding Park, next to the Sacramento River by the salmon jump viewing area, as fall-run Chinook salmon make their long way back from the ocean to spawn and die, completing their life cycle.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, told reporters that the water bond, peripheral tunnels, Shasta Dam raise and other water projects now being planned by the state and federal governments are in in reality “one Big Project” that will destroy salmon, rivers and groundwater supplies.

“It does not make sense that people are separating the water puzzle into individual pieces, such as: the raising of Shasta Dam, Proposition 1, the Delta tunnels, BDCP, Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flat, CALFED, Delta Vision, BDCP, OCAP, the Bay Delta, Trinity/Klamath Rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and water rights,” said Chief Sisk. “It is all one BIG Project.”

She emphasized, “You have to look at the whole picture and everything in between from Shasta Dam to the Delta estuary. We need to ask what is affected by our actions and who is benefitting from them? These are not separate projects; they are all the same thing that the State is asking us to fund – California water being manipulated for the enrichment of some and the devastation of cultures, environments, and species all in the name of higher profits.”

Other California Indian Tribes opposing Prop. 1 include the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Pulga Rancheria Concow Maidu Indians.

Continuing on the theme of Prop. 1 and the Brown Water Plan serving to create higher profits for the rich, Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (CWIN) stated, “Once again, California taxpayers are being asked to fund massive public works projects that will benefit the wealthy, the politically connected, and the powerful at the expense of average citizens and the environment. Ultimately, taxpayers will have to shell out almost $14.4 billion to pay for the bond. This price tag includes $7 billion that must be added, with interest, to the State’s already crushing debt burden.”

“The bill for ratepayers will be $360 million a year for 40 years. It must be noted that this is money that could otherwise be spent on education, public safety, health care and reducing California’s massive debt,” he concluded.

Lucas Ross-Merz of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust said the Sacramento River and the tax payers of California “deserve better” than this water bond.

“This bond does little for fisheries, little for multi-benefit flood protection projects needed in Northern California, and little to provide short or long term solutions to the water problems in our state,” he noted. “Proposition 1 will encourage private interests who desire to control water for their benefit and spend more public general funds to capture water that is already allocated and needed elsewhere.”

“The Sacramento River Preservation Trust rejects this bond because it would set a dangerous precedent, it doesn’t address the real problems that have created the symptoms we are struggling through today in California, and it does not include adequate funding for the major state water source regions within the Sacramento River Watershed. We strongly recommend a “NO” vote on Proposition 1 this November,” Ross-Merz said.

According to the Prop. 1 opponents, the water bond does nothing to address the current drought – and it shortchanges sustainable water programs that could safeguard California from inevitable future droughts,

They said Proposition 1 would promote “disproven, capital-intensive and destructive infrastructure projects over the innovative approaches that are California’s only real hope of developing a sustainable and equitable water policy. n short, this is an ill-conceived, wasteful, and ultimately cynical initiative. It is a backdoor attempt to put the interests of a handful of Central Valley agribusiness barons over the needs of cities, rank-and-file ratepayers, and our valuable and beleaguered commercial and sport fisheries.”

“Prop. 1 and its $14.4 billion debt is a bad deal for California,” explained Carole Perkins of the Butte Environmental Council (BEC). “California is in desperate need of real and long-term solutions and strategies to meet water scarcity, but Prop. 1 will not provide California water security. Water supply projects in the bond will only increase California’s water supply by 1%. Prop. 1 fails to mitigate the effects of drought, and does nothing to establish long-term water self-sufficiency. Prop. 1 reinvigorates the dam building era and pays for increased and long-term north-to-south water transfers.

Perkins said the bond allocates too little money for true water supply enhancement and too much money for pork barrel projects that will do little for water supply. Prop 1 promotes greater groundwater banking and out-of-region water transfers – both of which would be detrimental to the Northern Sacramento Valley’s ecosystems. The Sacramento Valley cannot sustain the extraction of more water from this region.”

The event took place as contributions to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaigns soared to $13,212,726 while corporate agribusiness, oil companies, billionaires, the health care industry and other corporate interests continued to dump millions of dollars into Jerry Brown’s campaign to pass the water bond.

In contrast, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign, has raised $89,100 and has spent $53,077 to date.

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, remains the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California. Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate “environmental” NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies are backing the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is campaigning to defeat Proposition 1.

Six simple reasons why you should vote no on Prop. 1:

- Prop. 1 will fund costly and inefficient dams, and bill the public for the expense.

- Prop. 1 would support the Governor’s Twin Tunnels project as indicated by his Stanford speech on October 20. Brown said that Proposition 1 would provide components missing from the State Water Project “enacted by my father.” These components, Brown ominously intoned, would “deal with the Delta.”

- Prop. 1 violates the public trust. The bond provides hundreds of millions in funding to purchase water allegedly for public trust purposes, to then divert it from the Delta as “abandoned” water for billionaires’ almond orchards.

- Prop. 1 ignores the bedrock realities of California’s water dilemma. Consumptive water right claims in California already exceed the amount of available water by 5.5 times. Proposition 1 does nothing to rectify this situation. Indeed, it ignores the one thing that must be done if we’re going to stabilize the state’s water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies.

- Prop. 1 provides no strategies to mitigate the impacts of drought. The bond is thus a classic bait-and-switch: It implicitly promises drought solutions it does not deliver.

- Prop. 1 underfunds recycling, conservation and other drought solutions that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies.

For more information, go to

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New crude oil report concludes risks of train spills are REAL!

By Tony Bizjak, 10/23/2014

A train carrying fuel passes through a Bakersfield neighborhood last summer. The dramatic increase in crude oil shipments around the United States and Canada, often on 100-car trains, has led to several major derailments and fires.

A train carrying fuel passes through a Bakersfield neighborhood last summer. The dramatic increase in crude oil shipments around the United States and Canada, often on 100-car trains, has led to several major derailments and fires. Jose Luis Villegas

Mile-long oil trains that are expected to crisscross California daily in the coming years pose significant risks to residents of urban areas, including Sacramento, a new report concludes, contradicting earlier studies that found no major safety concerns.

The report, issued by San Luis Obispo County officials, is based on a plan by Phillips 66 to transport crude oil on 80-car trains, five days a week, to its Santa Maria refinery, some likely through Sacramento. The authors looked at the cumulative impact of all oil trains that could come through California on a daily basis and came to the conclusion that the risk of oil spills and fires is real, and offered suggestions on how those issues should be addressed.

“Up to seven crude oil trains a day could travel on the stretch of track between Roseville and Sacramento,” the report reads. “The cumulative risk would be significant.”

The analysis, called a draft environmental impact report, contrasts with two recent analyses of similar crude-by-rail projects in Benicia and Bakersfield. Valero Refining Co. in Benicia and Alon USA in Bakersfield are proposing to transport crude oil twice a day on trains into their facilities. The Valero trains would come through downtown Sacramento, Roseville, West Sacramento and Davis, likely on the same tracks as the Santa Maria refinery trains. Some of the Bakersfield-bound trains also may come through Sacramento.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chronicle Editorial Board – The real crazy train: moving Bakken crude by rail

Sunday, October 26, 2014

GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari likes to deride Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail plan as the Crazy Train, but the loonier rail proposal is the one that would carry explosive Bakken crude 1,000 miles across the country to the Valero refinery in Benicia and other California refiners. Californians must have more assurances of safe rail operation before Valero’s oil-transfer-terminal plans proceed.

The City Council of Benicia, a town of 28,000 on the Carquinez Strait, has debated for months a draft environmental impact report on Valero’s plan to modify its refinery to bring in crude by rail. Oil, mostly from Alaska, currently enters the refinery via pipeline from ships docked at the Port of Benicia. Bakken crude, however, must come by rail because no major pipeline runs to the West Coast from North Dakota where it is extracted from the oil shale.

Community concerns include environmental risks but center on public safety because Bakken oil is more volatile than most other crudes. A derailed tanker train loaded with Bakken crude exploded in July 2013, killing 47 people in Canada and alerting transportation officials and the public to the real hazards of transporting this easily ignited oil. For Benicians, potentially explosive trains are no theoretical debate as two 50-car trains would pass daily through the north end of town.

Nor is it an abstract discussion for the residents of Roseville, Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis, where trains would roll through downtown daily. Davis Mayor Dan Wolk noted: “This may be technically a city of Benicia decision, but no city is an island in our interconnected region. Our community has real concerns about the potential safety impacts.”

So does California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who wrote Benicia officials earlier this month that “the DEIR fails to provide sufficient information for an adequate analysis of the safety risks from transportation or the air quality impacts from refining the new crude. These issues must be addressed and corrected before the City Council of Benicia takes action.” It is unclear whether the state would sue if the city failed to act.

Valero representatives clearly have no interest in expanding the scope of the permitting process to the state. Valero spokesman Bill Day told The Chronicle, “This is really the city of Benicia’s decision.”

Harris also wrote to Benicia that the draft report “ignores reasonably foreseeable project impacts by impermissibly limiting the scope of the affected environment analyzed to only the 69-mile stretch from Benicia to Roseville.” With so many communities affected, the state should stand firm and Solano County should use its authority over the refinery-expansion permits to persuade Valero to negotiate better public safety protections from the railroads, such as state-of-the-art train-control technology.

What’s really crazy is the federal law that allows pre-emption of municipal and state law when it comes to critical decisions on rail safety. Affected communities deserve a say over what rolls through their towns.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEG Community Meeting Monday Oct 27th 7PM

Join the Martinez Environmental Group at our next community meeting!
This is a chance to learn about what’s happening here in Martinez.
There will be time for discussion and questions.
Save the date! Monday, October 27, 2014, 7PM
First Congregational Church, Mayflower Room
1229 Court Street at Susana Street Martinez, CA 94553
(925) 709 – HAWK
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEG Election Questionnaire – Candidate Responses

While the Martinez Environmental Group does not currently endorse candidates, we hope our 2014 election questionnaire will help you decide which candidates are responsive and concerned about environmental issues in our city.

In August, we sent these questions to all candidates [with the exception of Mike Alford, only because we could not find contact information for him].

Lara Delaney, Gay Gerlack, and Mark Thompson promptly replied.

Mike Menesini, Rob Schroder, and Debbie McKillop were unresponsive.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shell GHG Project Presentation at CCC HazMat Commission

hazmat oct 23

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Could toxic waste be affecting your health?

Acme Land fill2Acme Fill Corporation wants a permit to continue operating their Martinez hazardous waste dump


California Department of Toxic Substances Control Public Meeting & Hearing

November 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Las Juntas Elementary School –  Multipurpose Room

4105 Pacheco Blvd in Martinez

The Acme Fill Hazardous Waste dump is located at 950 Waterbird Way, 1/3 of a mile from the neighborhood bordered by Arthur, Central and Irene Streets off Pacheco Boulevard.  The dump is between the Shell & Tesoro refineries, and adjacent to protected wetlands & creeks. 

Community Notice [English, PDF]
Public Notice [English, PDF]
Public Notice [Spanish, PDF]

Continue reading

Posted in Health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Martinez: Council passes resolution calling for safer crude by rail

By Elisabeth Nardi   Contra Costa Times  10/17/2014

MARTINEZ — City leaders urged state and federal agencies this week to place rail safety above cost savings when moving crude oil by rail through their city.

But it’s a move environmental groups and some candidates running in the November election call weak. They say city officials need to work harder to stop crude oil from rolling through Martinez.

On Wednesday, the City Council passed a resolution that urges rail safety regulators to be “vigilant” in their enforcement and asks them to require newer, safer rail cars. But residents who have been asking the city for months to come out against crude by rail criticized the resolution, saying it will do nothing.

Resident Amy Durfee, who lives near the Alhambra train trestle, criticized city officials over the resolution, which she called “flimsy.”

“It makes no concrete action to address this issue of the highly explosive trains that are coming across that trestle every seven to 10 days,” she said. “You are putting the city’s head in the sand and putting us all in danger.”

Even some of the council members who voted for the resolution didn’t feel it was tough enough. But others said something was better than nothing.

“At least it makes a public statement that the City Council is concerned about the public safety of its residents,” said Mayor Rob Schroder, noting the city is also concerned about rail shipments of other explosive chemicals. “This is just the beginning; as we go on into time, we will be taking more actions with respect to this issue.

Members of the Martinez Environmental Group were especially critical of the council, even drafting their own resolution they asked the council to pass. They wanted something similar to what cities such as Richmond and Berkeley passed earlier this year, which call for crude oil rail shipments to cease in their cities.

Concern has grown about train bridge and rail safety in general — especially in light of the increase in rail crude oil shipments, which grew 158 percent in California from September to December 2013, according to the state Energy Commission. Many are also worried about exploding trains and derailment. There have been several crude oil train explosions in North America over the past two years, including one in Quebec in July 2013 that killed 47 people.

Derailments “are not something that could happen; it’s something that does happen,” said Gay Gerlack, who is running for mayor against Schroder.

Residents also called on the council to have more emergency plans in place in case of a derailment.

Councilwoman Lara DeLaney said the resolution is vague, and it doesn’t demand enough from state and federal authorities. She didn’t vote “no” because anything that encourages any kind of safety is better than nothing, she said.

Councilman Mark Ross, who is not up for election, said the resolution has been seen by some as a “political selfie” before the November election, and others don’t know why Martinez is getting involved in something over which it has no jurisdiction.

The resolution “doesn’t really do anything more than express our concern,” Ross said.

All on the council vowed to do more with the issue. Meetings with the head of the railroads are planned, and officials are working with the League of California Cities.

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Martinez City Council Passes Weak Crude By Rail Resolution

Last night, sixteen Contra Costa County residents presented testimony asking the Martinez City Council to vote against a weak resolution on Crude By Rail (CBR).

With about fifty supporters in attendance – including the Martinez Environmental Group (MEG), Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community (BSHC), Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment, (CRUDE), the Sunflower Alliance, and local candidates for Mayor, Gay Gerlack and for City Council, Mark Thompson – all speakers asked the council to postpone the vote and work on strengthening the proposal for the good of the community.


Despite the presentation of a fully fleshed-out proposal by MEG to the council in May of this year, Mike Menesini sprung his alternative on community members two weeks ago. MEG members let him know that his proposal was unacceptably weak. Multiple efforts to meet with all members of the council proved fruitless, with the exception of Lara Delaney, who made time to meet with MEG members, and also made a last minute attempt to bring stronger wording to the proposal.

Unfortunately, the council voted unanimously to pass the flimsy resolution, while also promising “to do more” in the future. It’s difficult to understand their hurry – a desire to be done with it or an election stunt? Their resolution says nothing about a desire to stop CBR through Martinez, until/if it is made into a safe mode of transport.

These kind of trains roll through our town every 7 to 10 days, over that rusty old John Muir trestle on their way to Kinder Morgan in Richmond. Once there, the extreme crude oil is loaded onto tanker trucks and driven back over the tinder dry area on either side of Highway 4 to Tesoro for refining. So Martinez gets it coming and going!CBR Trestle

At one point, Mark Ross suggested that the only way things change is when something awful happens, citing the deadly Caldicott Tunnel explosion and fire that initiated a ban on explosive materials passing through the tunnel. Clearly he has not paid attention to the (at least) 11 other derailments and spills caused by CBR in the USA just this year, or the tragedy in Quebec that killed 47 people and destroyed their downtown area. The council seems content with responsive rather than proactive safety measures. But it should be crystal clear to everyone that by the time we respond to an event of this nature, the people are already dead and the water, land, and wildlife have been devastated. All you can do is let the fireball burn itself out.

MEG is so grateful to all the passionate speakers who showed up waimeecbrcropith the intention to stop the next accident before it happens! Public testimony was insightful, educational, and heartfelt.

Although many of us were visibly disheartened at the outcome, we will be back to continue this on-going struggle. CBR is just beginning. If the oil companies and politicians in their pockets have their way,  California will soon be crawling with bomb trains carrying extreme crude oil!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Report on Central Coast refinery project that could bring crude oil trains through East Bay cities available for public review

By Tom Lochner   Contra Costa Times   10/15/2014


Tanker rail containers are photographed along Waterfront Road in Martinez, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

BERKELEY — A revised environmental report for a rail expansion project at a petroleum refinery on the Central California coast that could bring ¿crude oil by trains through densely populated East Bay cities has been published by San Luis Obispo County, the lead agency overseeing the project.

The Phillips 66 Company Rail Spur Extension Project envisions bringing unit trains with 80 tank cars plus locomotives and supporting cars to a new crude oil unloading facility in Santa Maria from the north or from the south along tracks owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

The approach from the south would be through the Los Angeles area and up the Pacific Coast. An approach from the north would go along the Amtrak Capitol Corridor from Martinez via Richmond, Berkeley and Emeryville to Oakland, and from there south along the Capitol Corridor or Coast Starlight route via Hayward, Fremont and Santa Clara to San Jose and on to Santa Maria.

The prospect of trains loaded with crude oil has raised concerns of residents and public officials worried about the specter of exploding trains as well as other consequences. There have been several crude oil train explosions in North America over the last two years, including one in Quebec in July 2013 that killed 47 people.

In March, the Berkeley and Richmond city councils voted unanimously to oppose the transport of crude oil by rail through the East Bay. Days later, the San Luis Obispo County Department of Planning and Building announced it would recirculate the original draft report due to the large volume of comments it had generated, many of them complaining that certain impacts and dangers of the project had not been addressed.

The recirculated report is available on the San Luis Obispo County Planning Department website at under “Environmental Impact Reports.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment