Activists Seek Added Legislation Against Ethanol Trains

Even though Global Petroleum’s pulled the plug on its Ethanol train plan last summer, environmental activists in Chelsea and surrounding communities asked for another layer of protection from state legislators.

The Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG) urged the House to pass a budget amendment that requires, a lengthy moratorium preventing the Department of Environmental Protection from issuing a chapter 91 license to oil facilities unless they receive ethanol by marine vessel. The group also asked the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to complete an ethanol transport response plan.

The House this week passed the amendement and the Senate’s vote on the budget is expected to happen by the end of May.

“The Chelsea Creek Action Group applauds Speaker DeLeo and the co-sponsors of Amendment 392 to the House Budget 4000 for uplifting the public safety hazards of mile-long ethanol trains traveling through densely populated areas,” CCAG said in a statement. “The Chelsea Creek Action Group is proud to stand with Speaker DeLeo and the State Representatives to urge the Commonwealth’s agencies to work with federal and local counterparts to develop an ethanol transport response plan and temporarily prevent ethanol trains from traveling to the Greater Boston area.”

Representative Dan Ryan voted to support the amendement.

Last year, Senator Anthony Petruccelli, with help from Senators Sal DiDomenico and Patricia Jehlen, added language last week during a late night session to amend the state’s Chapter 91 law. The amendment’s language aimed to block Global Oil’s proposal to bring 1.8 million gallons of ethanol by train twice a week into their facility on the East Boston/Revere border.

Because the facility is along the Chelsea Creek, Global needs a Chapter 91 license to modify the facility in order to store ethanol along the banks of the Creek.

The language inserted into the Chapter 91 law stated that “an ethanol storage or blending facility that stores or blends or is intended to store or blend more than an average of 5,000 gallons of ethanol per day and is located within one mile of a census block that has a population density of greater than 4,000 people per square mile shall not be granted a license under this chapter. For the purposes of this section, ethanol shall be defined as any mixture composed of not less than 30 percent ethanol”.

However, Governor Deval Patrick sent the language back for further debate. However, seeing the writing on the wall Global abandoned its plans to ship ethanol in via train.

Residents in Eastie, Revere and Chelsea have long expressed concerns over Global’s proposal to bring 60-car trains carrying 1.8 million gallons of ethanol, a highly flammable material, two times or more per week along commuter rail tracks to its terminal on the East Boston/Revere line.

Global’s plans were slowed at the state level by legislation co-sponsored by Petruccelli and DiDomenico. Petruccelli and DiDomenico, became the first elected officials to file any significant legislation to slow Global’s plan to begin shipping ethanol on from upstate New York via train through densely populated areas in Everett, Chelsea and Revere. Petruccelli and DiDomenico added an amendment to a state transportation bond bill that prohibited the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from issuing Global a Chapter 91 license to build the ethanol storage facility on the Eastie/Revere line until a comprehensive safety study was completed.

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