In attacking my organization and other environmental groups connected to the recent legal victory against the Bakersfield Crude Terminal, The Californian's Lois Henry makes the exact same mistake air regulators made in approving the oily wastewater system permit for a massive and risky oil-train facility (“Facts about the Bakersfield Crude Terminal,” July 4).
The California Court of Appeal recognized that, under the California Environmental Quality Act, air regulators may not separate out the potential air pollution from the sump tanks and oily water sewer system alone from the emissions caused by construction and operation of the crude terminal — which can receive up to two 100-car (mile-long) trains full of crude oil per day.
Essentially, the air district tried to avoid public scrutiny and minimize pollution from the crude terminal by breaking up a big project into smaller pieces and only looking at each piece separately. And Henry tried to minimize a legal victory for the air we breathe by overlooking the court’s finding that the terminal — including the sewer system — might emit more pollution than air regulators admitted.
Additionally, it is curious that Henry emphasized that the appellate court did not immediately decide to vacate the sewer system’s permits or suspend its activity (and instead told the trial court to decide), but ignored one of the reasons for that decision: The federal EPA has cited the terminal for several Clean Air Act violations, including underestimating its air emissions, and that enforcement process is still ongoing.
Maya Golden-Krasner, Center for Biological Diversity