Valero’s Crude by Rail Project

Valero’s Crude by Rail Project is the culmination of nearly three years of analysis by the City of Benicia and independent experts. This simple infrastructure project gives Benicia’s refinery the ability to receive crude oil more efficiently while also boosting the local economy. In April, the Benicia City Council voted to delay their decision on Valero’s Crude by Rail Project in order to obtain an opinion on federal preemption from the Surface Transportation Board (STB). This decision will answer the most important questions regarding preemption and should protect the city from legal challenges. Unfortunately, the STB has not yet spoken. To learn more, view the video and timeline below:


February 11: The Benicia Planning Commission voted against the City staff’s recommendation and unanimously declined to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report and denied a Conditional Use Permit for Valero’s Crude by Rail Project.

February 29: Valero filed an appeal with the City of Benicia, contesting that the Planning Commission’s decisions which were based on impacts from railroad operations. Both the City’s Attorneys and Valero agree that any mitigations of impacts caused by railroad operations are preempted by federal law, and that the Commission was not allowed to deny the project based on those rail impacts.

March 15: At the City Council hearing, Valero requested a continuance of their appeal to obtain an opinion from the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal entity and leading authority on preemption issues. 

April 4, 6, 18, and 19:  The City Council accepted public comment on Valero’s request for continuance until the STB issuance of a declaratory order regarding federal preemption. In a 3-2 vote, the Benicia City Council voted to continue discussion on the project on Sept. 20 in an effort to review clarifying legal information to be requested of the STB.

September 20: Benicia City Council scheduled to discuss Valero Crude by Rail Project.