Lawmakers block ethanol trains

Global Petroleum gives up after years of effort

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD BAR major ethanol storage or blending facilities from nearby densely populated areas helped to torpedo a plan for a gas company to start taking in ethanol deliveries by rail at its facility in Revere.

The legislative language was included in the $34 billion state budget approved by the Legislature Monday and now awaiting Gov. Deval Patrick’s consideration. The proposal was sponsored by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, an East Boston Democrat, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Sal DiDomenico of Everett, Patricia Jehlen of Somerville, and William Brownsberger of Belmont.

“As a direct result of the Senate’s budget amendment, which effectively prohibits the transportation of ethanol by rail to certain facilities, we are proud to announce Global Petroleum’s intent to withdraw its application for a Chapter 91 license to expand the railcar depot at their Revere facility,” Petruccelli, DiDomenico, and Jehlen said in a joint statement. “The Senate’s leadership and public safety priorities, along with the help of Global Petroleum, community advocates and our colleagues in the House led to success on this issue.”

Global Petroleum Corp. official Edward Faneuil said there was not one lone reason the company had elected to withdraw from its plan to bring in ethanol deliveries by train. Train deliveries are more cost-effective and statistically safer than truck deliveries, but the large volume via rail meant the dangers from an accident are much greater. CommonWealth reported on the long-running controversy nearly two years ago.

“We’ve heard the input of the community and others,” Faneuil told the News Service. He said, “I think that we elected to withdraw for a variety of reasons.”

Faneuil said he would like to thank local officials from the area “for their consideration of the application” and said, “I think everyone engaged in a healthy process.”

The energy company, which currently receives ethanol deliveries at its Revere location, applied to receive those deliveries by rail in the fall of 2011, Faneuil said. He said company executives thought it was “a more efficient way to move ethanol to the facility.”

Local officials had balked at what they said was the dangerous and explosive potential of freighting ethanol by train through their neighborhoods.

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Andy Metzger

Law student, Temple University

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger is currently studying law at Temple University in Philadelphia. Previously, he joined  CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger is currently studying law at Temple University in Philadelphia. Previously, he joined  CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

“Ethanol is a highly volatile fluid; when it catches fire, water is useless, and first responders must use a toxic chemical foam to extinguish the blaze,” wrote Rep. Tim Toomey, an East Cambridge Democrat, on his website. Toomey said the company currently receives ethanol shipments by barge.

The budget language would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from permitting an ethanol storage or blending facility that handles more than an average of 5,000 gallons of ethanol per day if it is within one mile of an area with a population density of more than 4,000 people per square mile.