If This Town Can #StopOilTrains — Any Town Can

September 21, 2016

This decision came only hours after the Surface Transportation Board (STB) – a little-known federal agency that primarily handles disputes between railroads – affirmed the City’s right to deny Valero’s project. Buoyed by the STB’s decision and the tremendous, unceasing opposition to oil trains among Benicia residents, the council did the right thing and sided with the community over Big Oil.

Here are some key lessons from what happened last night:

  • Communities everywhere can say no to dangerous oil trains projects: The STB’s decision has impacts far beyond the borders of Benicia, or even California. It means that refinery communities across the US considering whether or not to grant oil train permits to Big Oil will have the freedom to say NO. For decision makers sitting on the fence, this means no more hiding behind federal pre-emption. You’re either for oil trains in your community, or you’re against them. 
  • Organizing gets the goods, every time: This hard-fought victory belongs to the incredible grassroots leaders of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community. They’ve been at the helm every step of the way – mobilizing neighbors, holding community forums, canvassing door-to-door and at farmers markets, and being present at every public hearing and council meeting to make sure decision makers knew residents were paying attention. This isn’t exactly glamorous work, and it’s often overlooked by funders, but it’s critical and needs ongoing support.