Oil by rail signifies progress

September 27, 2015


The Santa Maria Refinery is a small facility located on the mesa that has been a good neighbor for 60 years. They own 1780 acres of land but only use a very small portion of it.

Refineries intentionally purchase large plots of land to provide a buffer between them and the surrounding community. This adds additional annual taxation cost but aids them from impacting the surrounding community. This is part of the philosophy of being a good neighbor.

They give back to the community and are a major source of tax revenue for the central coast and the State of California. They provide permanent employment for approximately 200 local residents and during maintenance periods provide employment for an additional 300 temporary employees. These individual spend their income at the hotels, restaurants, vineyards, and various businesses here on the central coast.

The refinery wants to add additional railroad tracks on their own property to facilitate delivery of crude oil by rail. This practice is currently being done in other states on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast. It’s been proven that it can be done safely and efficiently.

They do not own the pipeline or oil fields as some opponents falsely imply. They buy crude oil from local producers shipped by pipeline and want to be able to be able to receive it by railcar.

There are no railroad tracks that cross the ocean so it’s obvious the crude oil is domestic and not foreign as the opposition implies. The days of the pony express are long gone. That whispering sound you hear is called progress.

Marcus Beal is a resident of Pismo Beach.

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Marcus is a “shift supervisor” at Phillips and thus his comments are obviously somewhat biased.

I have met him at various City Council meetings and he’s as fine a gentleman as there is. But as a “spokesperson” for Phillips he only presents part of the story. Phillips like to position themselves as a “good neighbor”. They do indeed proffer checks around the community that obviously do good. There employees, who we’re met on many occasions are to a man, hard working and very loyal to Phillips and their commitment to safety. But this rail project is another story. It will be on an additional 27 acres; bring the most toxic and polluting type of crude down the tracks to refinery. The Project is anything but a spur. It’s a “rust belt” type of operation that will be in operation at least 24/5 with trains coming and going, and jockeyed around the yard with increased levels of toxic diesel emissions in a concentrated area. With 11 class 1 impacts that cannot be mitigated and air quality issues that currently contribute to air pollution that is already out of compliance, this project should not see the light of day.

And when Marcus says that whispering sound is the sound of progress and we’re beyond the era of the pony express; he’s making gratuitous comments at best.

We are not unaware that we are in a carbon based economy, and that oil is integral to our economy; but this project is the wrong project for SLO. The only benefit is the marginal increase in profits if any for Phillips to source “advantaged” in price tar sands crude.

And as for the jobs issue; the only folks who have raised that issue about the potential for the refinery closing or jobs eliminated has has been Philliips when they seed their employees with half baked information. When asked directly if the Refinery would cease operation should the project not be approved they have never said that it would. In fact at a recent presentation they gave an emphatic NO!

Dear Unlisted,

Thanks for confirming that Amtrak currently has trains traveling to and from Canada everyday safely and efficiently. It’s not often the opponents of the rail industry state the facts. Their locomotives are using the new Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel that is made by refineries right here in the USA. Fortunately our Diesel Fuel is not made by a foreign company like Volkswagen. As far as world traveling ….I’m on my 3rd passport. I want my oil delivered just like all the other products (by the American Railroad Industry).

LOL, opponents of the rail industry???

The “the sky is falling” crowd is back again! If it wasn’t for their land of “what if’s,” they would have no argument whatsoever. WHAT IF a train derailed coming down Cuesta Grade, WHAT IF a train carrying oil derailed in Pismo Beach, WHAT IF many were killed because of any train derailment in our county? Wait, WHAT IF Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant had an accident that wiped out our county as the radiation moved East? Are their yard signs addressing this WHAT IF possibility as well?

Why isn’t the “whatifers” crowd taking this argument to the highways where hazardous materials are shipped through our county daily by hazmat trucks? Where is their concern about this fact? WHAT IF a hazmat truck loaded with Anhydrous Ammonia Metallic Sodium Chlorine crashes on the Cuesta Grade and kills everyone within a one mile radius though inhalation? Are there yard signs addressing these “what if’” situation as well?

Furthermore, as I’ve stated before on this topic, the following hazardous materials are shipped by rail and truck; Anhydrous Ammonia, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Ethylene Oxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Vinyl Chloride, Anhydrous Hydrofluoric Acid, Anhydrous Ammonia Metallic Sodium Chlorine, Liquefied Hydrocarbon Gas, Motor Fuel Anti-Knock Compound Vinyl Chloride, Fertilizer Ammoniating Solution, Chlorine, Anhydrous Ammonia, Sulfur Dioxide, Butadiene, Refrigerant or Dispersant Gases, Nitrosyl Chloride, Helium Hydrogen Oxygen, Nitrogen Fertilizer Solution, Ethyl Chloride. Again, where are the yard signs to stop shipping these materials from being shipped?

New rules have been made by the FRA and the AAR, where only post-October 2011 CPC-1232 tank cars will be used to transport any oil. Their design has much greater safety, and with tight-lock couplers and train speeds not exceeding 40 mph. Newer safer tank cars are being built by the thousands that will almost eliminate any dangerous oil train situation in the future.

Now, for the “whatifers” that rant about rail safety and become hypocrites to other hazardous materials being shipped by rail and truck, if you don’t want these trains traveling throughout our nation, then I suggest that you stock up in the way of candles, kerosine, washboards for laundry, flashlights and batteries, etc., until solar and wind technology becomes a reality. No oil, no electricity and your fine automobile will be parked.

NEWSFLASH: Wait a minute, WHAT IF the asteroid FN53 slightly veers of course in the near future and hits our planet whose impact would kill about a fifth of the Earth’s population and eventually create a mass extinction of humanity? “ Now, WHAT IF?

FACT, risk is a part of this life in our daily activities, either accept it, or move to a seclusive island and just sit there, period.

The one amazing fact ignored so far is how out of touch are the creators of this plan — hauling all those hugely dangerous tanks cars down the grade into San Luis Obispo? Their travel beyond that point is controversial — but seriously — down the grade! The matter should have been stopped by the Supervisors immediately if they personally would not be responsible for the risk.