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California oil train risks worse in minority areas: report

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Californians most exposed to the risks of oil train derailments or fires overwhelmingly live in poorer, minority neighborhoods, two environmental groups in the state said on Tuesday.

The report, the first of its kind to explicitly link issues of class and race to the ongoing oil train safety debate, urged state regulators to ban oil imports by train into California and reject permits for several projects refiners have proposed to expand oil-by-rail cargo capacity.

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After analyzing U.S. census data for the 10 biggest cities in the state and several smaller ones near refineries, ForestEthics and Communities for a Better Environment found the neighborhoods with the largest minority populations were usually inside the so-called blast zone, the one-mile evacuation zone along tracks recommended by the U.S. Department of Transportation in case of accidents.

By one measure, about 75 percent of residents inside the blast zone in the cities studied were Hispanic-Latino, African-American, or Asian, with whites making up 22 percent of the population.

Outside the blast zone, the white population doubled to 43 percent.

“Oil trains contribute to environmental racism in California,” the groups said in a statement. “Californians of color are more likely to live in the oil train blast zone.”

To be sure, trains carrying toxic substances move through many wealthy neighborhoods, especially in Houston, which is ringed by refineries, and picturesque cities like Santa Barbara, California. A deadly 2013 crash in Quebec happened in tiny Lac Megantic.

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But environmental groups insist it is only a matter of time before there is a fiery train derailment in a big city. Oil train traffic, especially to Washington state and the East Coast, has grown quickly as new oilfields from the fracking revolution often lack pipelines to move crude to markets.

For the time being, however, oil train volumes arriving in California have waned in recent months because of broader oil market volatility.

Critics worry those volumes will recover when crude prices spike again, bringing in more from North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and other nearby states.

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In January and March of this year, crude by rail volumes into California were around 11,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 7,800 bpd, respectively, according data from the California Energy Commission.

That is a small fraction of 1.7 million bpd of crude processed daily in California. Half of that is imported, mainly from the Middle East, South America and Africa.

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(Reporting by Terry Wade; Editing by Andrew Hay)


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2020 Election

Even Fox News shows Trump trailing in 2020 amid market crash and fear over COVID-19

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The expanding COVID-19 epidemic and stock market crashes are not the only bad news for President Donald Trump this week.

A new Fox News poll shows Trump trailing six different Democrats in head-to-head matchups.

The poll showed Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Trump is in a ‘fight-or-flight state’ over coronavirus: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," Trump biographer and "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz laid out the president's state of mind over the coronavirus crisis.

"Let's understand Trump," said Schwartz. "Trump is the chief energy officer of this land. So, in other words, his energy has a disproportionate impact on all our energy. And he already raised the anxiety of people over the last four years considerably. He'll exploit fear if he thinks that serves him, or deny fear if he thinks that serves him."

"That's an important point," said host Ari Melber. "You're arguing, as someone who worked with him, that while we just heard about a public interest approach, you're saying you don't see him using public interest?"

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‘No time for being patronized,’ say youth climate leaders as UK cops warn parents over Fridays for Future protest

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"Young people should not be underestimated—we have a voice and we are strong."

Youth organizers of a Friday climate protest in Bristol, United Kingdom said they have "no time for being patronized" after local police sent a letter to parents warning of inadequate safety measures for the upcoming demonstration, which teenage activist Greta Thunberg and thousands of others are expected to attend.

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