Global Petroleum withdraws plan to transport ethanol by rail through northern suburbs
Global Petroleum has withdrawn a plan to transport ethanol by train through densely populated communities north of Boston after the state Legislature passed a budget with an amendment that would outlaw the storage of large quantities of ethanol near densely populated areas.
Global announced the withdrawal of its request for a license that would allow it to transport ethanol over Commuter Rail lines to its facility in Revere on Tuesday, one day after lawmakers in the House and Senate submitted their reconciled $34 billion spending plan to Governor Deval Patrick.
The governor still must approve the budget before it will go into effect.
In a statement, Edward Faneuil — Global Petroleum’s executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary — thanked state Senators Anthony Petruccelli, Sal DiDomenico, and Patricia Jehlen, who introduced the Senate amendment blocking the plan, as well as other state officials who had opposed it.
“We further want to thank the communities of the Commonwealth for their input during the permit process,” Faneuil said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth to serve the energy needs of Massachusetts and the Northeast region.”
In a joint statement, Petrucelli, DiDomenico, and Jehlen credited Global’s abrupt about-face to the budget amendment and thanked Global and community advocates, who had spoken out about their concerns that ethanol transportation would endanger local residents.
The plan was described in earlier Boston Globe reports as having been proposed by Global Partners LP, a publicly traded company that shares some leaders and ownership with the privately owned Global Petroleum but is a separate legal entity.
Global Petroleum is wholly owned by the Slifka family, descendents of Abraham Slifka, who founded a heating oil business in Dorchester in 1933 that his sons would expand into the business that became Global Partners.
Both firms employ Faneuil as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary.
Activists celebrated the victory after first hearing of Global’s decision on Monday.
“We were more than excited to learn the news. We feel like our community organizing efforts were hugely successful in helping Global reach this decision,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, associate executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative and a member of the Chelsea Creek Action Group, an association of activists that opposed the plan.
“We feel really relieved that we can now enjoy our homes and our communities without the fear of a massive incident or an explosion from an ethanol train,” she said.
Activists warned of devastating possible outcomes of transporting ethanol by rail through urban areas, pointing to the 2007 overturn of a gasoline tanker truck in Everett that shot flames down Main Street and a 2011 tanker truck crash on Route 1 in Saugus that sparked an eight-alarm blaze.
They said the rail lines Global would use to transport the ethanol from the Midwest through Western Massachusetts and on to Revere pass through more than 90 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, areas where they say about 200,000 residents live within a half-mile of the tracks.
North of Boston, the train would pass through densely populated areas near important commercial sites and public facilities, opponents said, including the Chelsea Produce Market, one of the largest fruit and vegetable distribution centers in the country.