Crude Oil by Rail Opponents Stage Protests

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Activists concerned about the danger of crude oil train shipments through populated areas took part in a national day of action Wednesday, including events in Sacramento and Davis.

Laurie Litman heads up 350 Sacramento, a group concerned about global warming. She notes that shipments of crude oil in California have increased 1,300 percent over the past four years.

Litman circulated a map at a rally outside a federal building in Sacramento showing neighborhoods and schools that would be affected by a fiery oil spill like the one that killed 47 people in Quebec, Canada a year ago.

“These are not fires that can be put out. They need to burn out, so if that happens when a train comes through the middle of Sacramento, we are in trouble” Litman said.

Sacramento Assembly Member Roger Dickinson addressed the gathering, telling them that emergency agency need to know what volatile oil shipments are being transported and when. He has authored a bill requiring rail companies to provide that information and have access to real time communications gear to get information to local officials.

Several rail spills occurred in areas where emergency responders had no little information of what was spilled.

“To assure that we get the information that we need, and the information that we need in a timely way,” said Dickinson.

Many at the rally were advocating a reduction in the use of crude oil as a long term solution to the threat of oil derailments.

“It’s not if, it’s when because it has happened before,” David Link, of the Sacramento Electrical Vehicle Association, said Wednesday.

Activists in Davis are particularly concerned about a plan to run 100 oil tank cars a day through Downtown Davis to a Valero refinery in Benecia. If approved, the trains would go from Roseville thorough Sacramento past Davis.

They handed out leaflets and circulated petitions at the Davis Rail Station.

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