Just say no to crude by rail

February 21, 2015


Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo City Council officially joined a rapidly expanding list of towns, cities and counties. They’re the ones specifically opposed to Phillips 66 imposing its self-proclaimed “crude-by-rail strategy” on California and San Luis Obispo County.

After a unanimous vote, the Council sent a two-page letter (attached) to the County’s Planning Commission outlining the obvious dangers of allowing a rail terminal to be built and having hundreds of tar sands crude oil trains menacing its citizens each year.

It stated the case clearly and forcefully:

“Trains delivering crude would go right through the heart of our city. An accident would have catastrophic effects if it occurred in any populated or habitat area. Our fire fighters and emergency response or hazmat teams are not funded nor equipped to deal with the magnitude of a rail disaster.

“The council urges you to deny the application of the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery in Nipomo. Reject this project and protect the health, safety and welfare of San Luis Obispo County residents.”

The list of major municipalities gets longer each week. Why? Because they recognize the outcomes of an invasion of Phillips’ oil trains.

Here’s the list of those north and south that have already officially communicated their opposition:

• Alameda County
• Berkeley
• Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
• Camarillo
• Davis
• Moorpark
• Oakland
• Oxnard
• Richmond
• Simi Valley
• San Jose
• San Leandro Unified School District
• San Luis Obispo City
• Ventura County
• Ventura Unified School District

Therefore — this is not a “NIMBY” issue. Phillips’ plan endangers scores of cities and towns, and millions of citizens as their trains carry tar sands all the way from Canada to SLO County.

The decision to allow or disallow the rail terminal in Nipomo, and thus the oil trains, will be landmark in nature. The SLO County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors has the power to stand up to big oil and say, “keep your trains out.,” or they can open the floodgates. The nation is watching.

This story is happening now. The decision will be made soon.

The Mesa Refinery Watch Group is a group of people opposed to the Nipomo rail spur project.



  1. amusselm says:

    You do realize that there’s around 3 oil trains a week that already go through SLO, right? What makes oil shipped by rail from just north of Camp Roberts any better than oil shipped by rail from anywhere else?

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. topper01 says:

    No oil by rail. No pipeline. No trucking oil. No fracking. No solar panels. No wind generators.

    No! No! No!

    New Rule: Anyone who votes no, are hereby prohibited from owning a motor vehicle or having electricity in their homes. There, that otta fix ’em.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  3. Allen Meyers says:

    Would the THE MESA REFINERY WATCH GROUP prefer the refinery receive oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota instead? I’m guessing not. How about a medium grade oil from Colorado or Wyoming? Probably not that either.

    Here’s a fact that county planning commission has to pay special attention to: the Nipomo Mesa refinery CANNOT receive oil via marine tanker, thus it severely limits the options Phillips 66 has. This is not like the proposed rail terminal in Benicia where Valero does have marine access and is now receiving Bakken oil via marine tanker (“bomb ships” anyone??). With oil production in California slowly declining and with refineries under increasing pressure to meet California refinery emission standards the type of oil being received for processing is becoming critical, especially when refining margins are tight.

    Due to Interstate Commerce Laws, states, counties and cities cannot regulate the movement of oil via rail…any claims to the contrary are false. Cities, agencies, ect. can go on record as opposing the movement of oil but they cannot stop the movement of such product just as they cannot stop the movement of a dangerous chemical like chlorine via truck and road. Most cities, counties and agencies have little to no knowledge of ICL.

    The project should be approved but with, at least initially, severe restrictions. No lights or operations @ the terminal from 11pm to 7am. Two trains arriving at the facility per week maximum for the first 6 months of operation, then increasing shipments in increments every 60-90 days thereafter. Limit train length to 60 cars and train weight to under 10,000 tons also for the first 6 months. DOT-111’s (type of tank car) must not be used for shipment (tank cars with head shields only). If at all possible limit train speeds to 25 or less in heavily populated areas (subject to modification to prevent trains crews from violating the hours of service on duty time of 12 hours).

    The current oil train operating several times a week from near San Ardo to the LA harbor area is proof oil trains can be operated safely through the area. Nobody in their right mind can deny that, not even THE MESA REFINERY WATCH GROUP.

    Allen Meyers

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  4. doglover says:

    NPR was advertising today an hour discussing oil by rail tomorrow afternoon
    Jan Marx is on Dave for the same topic.
    Do not miss out.

    (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
    • justbeware says:

      Jan wants the world to live in a plastic bubble.

      If she could, she would outlaw cars in order to protect us all from any possible harm.
      As we all know, many more people are killed in auto accidents each and every, single year, than are killed by trains carrying crude.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  5. Myself says:

    There is already a large pipeline not being used that runs thru Sisquoc and on down to Gavoita,I’d just bet if the oil company wanted to branch off that lien and run a stub to the mesa there would be a whole lotta whining from these same people on how bad it could be,but today there saying there just against the rail cars,tomorrow they’ll be against a pipeline,just a bunch of nimbys.

    (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down

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