Faces of Fracking: The Accidental Activist

Ed Ruszel didn't set out to be an environmental activist. Then Valero Energy announced a plan to bring 3 million gallons of tar-sands crude—every day—within feet of his family business.

Ed Ruszel’s workday is a soundtrack of whirling, banging, screeching—the percussion of wood being cut, sanded, and finished. He’s the facility manager for the family business, Ruszel Woodworks. But one sound each day roars above the cacophony of the woodshop: the blast of the train horn as cars cough down the Union Pacific rail line that runs just a few feet from the front of his shop in an industrial park in Benicia, California.

Most days the train cargo is beer, cars, steel, propane, or petroleum coke. But soon two trains of 50 cars each may pass by every day carrying crude oil to a refinery owned by neighboring Valero Energy. Valero is hoping to build a new rail terminal at the refinery that would bring 70,000 barrels a day by train—or nearly 3 million gallons.

And it’s a sign of the times.

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