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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I simply do not want all that train traffic through what, essentially, is a dry but overgrown desert. One chain dangling from a camper caused the Cuesta fire. This alone caused 2,446 acres to burn, resulted in a structure loss, an injury, and the evacuation of a town. This used 692 Fire Personnel, 23 engines, 26 fire crews, 3 helicopters and more. What if that fire started on the tracks under US 101 in Pismo Beach and roared up those hills? What if that fire was started not by a single spark, but by 100,000 gallons of oil burning? How are you going to environmentally mitigate that?

This community stands AGAINST.


WAIT, are you proposing to ban all campers that have chains on them that could fall down and create a spark to start a fire?

I propose that you should be the president of the “WHAT IF” society in San Luis Obispo County! I would vote for you, for sure.

It’s amusing to watch the bored NIMBYs get so emotional over this non-issue.

One is very tempted to use the tired and trite recommendation to “get a life!”

Opposed? – YES!

NIMBY? – I’m not living or working in a blast zone, nor are any loved ones. I am opposed to these trains because YOUR kids may be at Cal Poly, or SLO High, etc. etc. Don’t think I can be painted as a NIMBY.

Emotional? There will be lots of challenges for humanity going forward. Identifying and addressing the actual threats (vs. the red herrings) is something we should all strive to do. Having said that, I would respectfully suggest that “conservatives”, almost by definition, tend to be more fearful of change. (Think immigrants, terrorists, gays etc.) So do not fear solar, wind, higher mpg cars! They’re your future! The world is awash in cheap oil and alt fuels are still winning. Just today Shell announced its quitting the arctic. Writing is on the wall.

So, you are happy putting the trucks on the road as the oil must move and that is a fact! Are you willing to give up your gas driven family vehicles? If not, you are a NIMBY conspirator.

Nobody uses trucks to move oil. That is a fact.

Supertankers, barges, pipelines, and rail…..pretty much in that order. Guess which is the most dangerous to human life?

Opponents of this project, myself included, also take issue with the TYPE and QUANTITY of crude they propose to transport. Canadian tar sands contain diluent that make it explosive…..5 times in the US just this year. They plan to transport nearly 3 million gallons per day.

If the Central Coast really needs the extra refinery capacity for local use, find differnent crude stock and/or find a safer way to transport it.

Mile long trains belching diesel all the way from Canada (where the raze forests to essentially mine it) so that we can have these potential bombs roll through our communities….not really seeing the upside there.

NIMBY conspirator. I like the sound of that! It almost sounds like I care about my neighbors and community.


I thought you were schooled already upon this topic in the following thread, whereas you became eerily silent to the facts that blatantly went against your WHAT IF’S contained therein.


Not only was I not “schooled” in that thread…..I did not even comment. If I choose to stop posting on a certain topic, it is because someone is not being constructive. For example, SamLoius just wants to call me NIMBY, then I’m done with him. It’s debating 101. He called me names, he loses and is cerfainly not worth my time. I must say tho, I really like NIMBY conspirator!

“Blast zone.” How I absolutely detest the misuse of such verbiage to inflame emotions! If you don’t like it them move, NIMBY!

One way or the other this product will be refined. It will also be consumed by people here on the Central Coast. The refinery has long existed here. It’s wrong to effectively insist that another community shoulder the risks — such as they are, and that we remain a community of NIBYers when we share in the consumption the output.

As far are your little rant about “conservatives?” You can jam that where the sun don’t shine, NIMBY…

Seems like you are getting a little emotional. Irony of ironies, considering your initial post.

“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.”

From this comment, it is obvious that Mr. Beal has never been to either Canada or Mexico. Does he not know that they exist, or just failed high school geography? Given that Canada and Mexico are, in fact, foreign countries, there are definitely railroad tracks that cross international borders. Heck, Amtrak even has many daily trains to and from Canada.

Since he is misinformed about this, or simply lies, how accurate or truthful are Mr. Beal’s other comments.

Marcus is indeed an employee of the Santa Maria Refinery. At a recent Council Meeting in Pismo, Marcus came over to me to introduce himself; as he knew that I had written a letter in opposition to his letter to the SLO Tribune that was laced with errors and inaccuracies. Like many of the folks that I have met who work at the Refinery, he was pleasant, forthright in his opinions, receptive to hear what I had to say, and a solid citizen and family man. Obviously, when the folks at the Refinery are given the “fluffery” talking points by their management; with the overtones that the Refinery would close if the Project is not approved; they will write letters, wear Green Tee Shirts that say Protect Our Jobs (the color green is not for environment; its the color of money”) and speak up to protect their income and life style. He had non of the vitriolic rhetoric of some of the other writers.

So, for the record; I get it that we live in a society that is fueled by oil. I use gas, I use products made of plastic, and I see traffic everyday on the freeways. But the issue here is not against oil. It’s against the Project that will be bringing in the volatile tar sands crude 5 times a week on 80 crude oil tanker cars. The Refinery currently sources its crude from local California fields. Presently they are at half capacity; but it’s not because they lack crude feedstock. It’s because the pipe line that ruptured in Refugio is being tested and thus the crude is not now flowing as it has for almost 60 years. The issue is not lack of feedstock; it’s a corporate decision to have “a pipeline on wheels” to source “advantaged crude” meaning cheaper crude. And yes, there are oil trains coming down the coast now; but they are not same type of crude as tar sands. And yes there are dangerous cargo and commodities now coming down the mainline, often in the stealth of night; and yes should prevail upon our elected officials to make sure that the tracks are safe and the trains are safe. (It’s worth noting that the major railroads are bringing in the lawyers and lobbyists to water down the safety regulations, and kick the can down the road as to the timelines for safer trains).

Marcus says that the Pony Express Days are Gone…it’s a cute comment, but so are buggy whips, and bell bottom pants. Stopping the Rail Project is not stopping progress. It’s stopping the potential for a cataclysmic fiery explosion that could literally obliterate a town; because if approved, the trains will be coming down the tracks 20-30-or 40 years; so why invite that risk.

The Draft Recirculated EIR spelled out 11 Class 1 impacts that could not be mitigated; including 5 that relate specifically to toxic emissions within the refinery and along the mainline. Any one of these should be enough to deny the project, but there a 11! Marcus is a rational and articulate guy…he knows this; and he knows that the EIR can not be substantially changed; and that’s why 40 municipalities, school districts, and professional organizations including unions have stepped up and written letters in opposition to this Project. Why? They simply don’t want to play “oil by rail roulette” with the public health and safety of their communities. This Project has nothing to do with saving jobs, or assuring that we wean ourselves off of foreign oil, or local activists hating oil…it’s about the profits of Phillips 66 to source “advantaged” crude at the expense to health and safety of the community. That is not being a good neighbor.


We would be remiss if we didn’t ask you the obvious question, and that is, are you this adamantly against those “other” hazardous materials that are either shipped by rail and truck throughout the United States?

For the sake of brevity in not listing all dangerous tank car loads, a few examples of the outcomes of these tank car loads in explosive accidents are as follows ………


To be true to your cause, you must take the same position against rail propane tank cars that also can explode as well. This link shows the aftermath of such an explosion.



Nineteen cars were derailed, all of which were carrying ethanol, a flammable liquid, according to the NTSB. Thirteen of the derailed tank cars were breached, or leaked their contents and caught fire.


Since you’re an advocate for train safety, and not to be a blatant hypocrite, then do you have additional yard signs on your property to address these equally dangerous tank car loads and possible outcomes?

Oil by rail is ANYTHING but progressive…just ask the people of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

Mr. Beal,

Would it not be fair to disclose that you work at the facility….just so readers understand your perspective and possible motives for writing this opinion piece?


Conversely, would it be equally fair to mention that you are one of many that are spearheading a campaign against the Phillip’s 66 oil can train?

One of many? Yes.

I would not say I am spearheading anything in any way. I have attended no meetings or ralleys of any kind on the subject. I do not have a yard sign. The sum total of my involvement are my posts under this opinion piece.

This shit is toxic and dangerous…and benefits no one except profiteers that refuse to put THEIR asses on the line.

What garbage being spewed ! More poison from the usual suspects. One would hope that these sellouts drown in their filth, or get incurable cancers and die painfully.

I sure hope you live a life that doesn’t depend in any way on fossil fuels or you’re simply another hypocrite.

Good article and comment by Rich. The hysteria, hyperbole and attempts to generate panic displayed by the opponents just show that they are emotion-driven and factually low-information types. Akin to the climate alarmists they demand instant action to stave off so-called certain doom, use highly charged terms like “oil bomb trains” and demonize those with other opinions.

This is typical of the tactics used by Alinskyite groups such a the Sierra Club, PETA, Greenpeace, Earth First and all the various (fill in the blank) Liberation Fronts.

Some are merely noisy and annoying while others are violent. In between, but still dangerous, are quasi-governmental bodies like our Air Pollution Control Board, captured by radical environmentalists some time ago.

Our eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, a concept antithetical to the Neo-Luddites that control these repositories of reversion.

When you have 40 municipalities writing in opposition to the Rail Project; in lieu of lashing out with invective and name calling “Alinskyite” groups; try to understand what the project is about. Phillips want’s what is called “advantaged” crude; meaning cheaper crude. Yet there is a move now to allow the United States to export its crude. That means that the Alberta tar sands and Bakken crude will now be on the world market to compete with West Texas Intermediate; Dubai, and Brent crude. These are the bench mark pricing markets. So it’s a good bet that when domestic crude is available for export, the cost to Phillips will more than likely rise as they will have to compete with foreign market demand. This is pretty much the argument that they have for wanting the rail; so that they can put pricing pressure on the crude suppliers on California Coast where they have to compete for crude with Exxon/Mobile.

The bottom line is all about following the money where to source and sell their crude and refined product. It has nothing to do with diminishing feedstock.

By the way, if they do bring in Canadian crude, then the field workers in the California coastal extraction industry might lose their jobs.

So the name calling will gin up folks who don’t dig a little deeper into an issue; but this Project is a pure money play by Phillips. I have nothing against making a profit; but sometimes you have to ask at what cost?

By the way, Phillips runs on and on with those good paying head of house hold union jobs. It was through the community organizing and labor organizing of Saul Alinsky in Chicago with with CIO that the unions were able to garner better wages and better working conditions.

Those union workers who vilify his name; owe their livelihoods to his early organizing efforts.

How ginned up would those union workers be to hear you say they owe their livelihoods to a man who dedicated his book to Lucifer?

“Alinskyite” is not meant to be a compliment.

This was a guy that made “Rules” to include dumbing down the subversive message to his people, ridiculing your enemies and enjoying doing it, making terrorist threats, and lying so often that it becomes seen as truth. This is the sick domestic version of Taqiyyah, where lies to non-believers are moral.

These proto-communistic tactics are seen every day in the anti-energy, anti-business cells so vocal and hysterical now on this issue, and they reflect the same contempt for American values and even the American people as the despicable author of “Rules for Radicals.

I always keep in mind his “third rule of ethics” when I see his acolytes in action: “…in war the end justifies almost any means”.

Unlike many standing in opposition to this project that have never been to or seen an oil loading rail spur, I have conducted environmental air emission testing at the San Ardo rail facility and can report back that there are no monsters. The hype and hysteria has nothing to do with the project and everything to do with the small but vocal group of environmental activists that appose ANY use of oil and gas. Their true agenda isn’t about safety but about putting oil out of business at the expense of middle class families and our community.

Moving Crude Oil by Train is a proven safe way and this country needs more refining capacity.

They can drive their Coal powered cars to the protests but a BBL of oil makes a lot more than gasoline for our cars and it is needed.

Read the EIR….The method that Phillips proposes to mitigate the toxic emissions is through emission credits. They admit to the problem…now the EPA will also introduce more stringent perimeter monitoring.