Hundreds descend on SLO to protest Phillips 66 rail spur

February 5, 2016

Rail Spur protest

Opponents of Phillips 66’s proposed rail spur came from across California Thursday to protest the project as it appeared before the San Luis Obispo County Planing Commission. An estimated total of more than 500 people showed up to the first day of a two-day hearing on the planned rail spur.

Phillips 66 plans to build a rail spur so that crude oil currently delivered by pipeline could be transported to the Nipomo refinery by rail. The proposed project includes a 6,915-foot rail spur, an unloading facility, on-site pipelines, replacement of coke rail loading tracks and the construction of five parallel tracks with the capacity to hold a 5,190-foot train.

Four buses carrying opponents of the project arrived in San Luis Obispo on Thursday. The buses came from the Nipomo Mesa, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Members of the local homeless community also attended the planning commission hearing. Homeless individuals were seen eating pizza and holding signs.

An overflow crowd poured out of the board chambers and into the lobby and a conference room of the county building, as well as the neighboring Fremont Theater. The meeting was televised on a screen in the theater.

A total of 83 members of the public spoke at Thursday’s hearing, mostly in opposition to the project. About 400 meeting attendees submitted speakers slips.

The planning commission is scheduled to continue the hearing Friday. It is likely the hearing will take three or four days to complete due to the amount of public commenters.

Multiple public officials spoke in opposition to the project. They included San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. Both Carbajal and Schneider are congressional candidates.Rail Spur protest

Additionally, the county has received more than 24,000 letters opposing the project. Some of the letters came from public bodies, like the San Luis Obispo City Council.

The county received about 150 letters in favor of the proposed rail spur.

On Monday, county staff released a report saying the rail spur could result in oil spills and fires which could impact natural resources and agriculture. The report also said the project would generate toxic air emissions that exceed San Luis Obispo County health risk thresholds.

County staff is recommending the planning commission reject the project.

Phillips 66 officials say oil production is decreasing in California, and the rail spur would allow the company to bring in crude from new suppliers.

Company officials say the project would preserve 200 jobs at the Nipomo refinery. It would also create 200 temporary construction jobs and 12 new permanent positions, according to the company.

Crude oil is currently trading at less than $35 a barrel, and it hit a nearly 13-year low of $27 a barrel late last month. The price decline has caused numerous layoffs in the oil industry.

After the planning commission rules on the proposed rail spur, the Phillips 66 project is expected to be appealed to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Heidi Harmon admitted to me, and another caller to the Dave Congalton show, that the opposition to these trains was just a piece of opposition to all fossil fuels. That’s a fact. Comparing UP Class 6 rail lines to hillbilly rail disasters is ludicrous, as is Heidi Harmon’s claims that the Stenner Creek trestle and other old infrastructure is de facto inadequate. She described it as “spindly” and inadequate for oil trains. If it is “spindly” it is not adequate for any trains, including passenger trains and trains carrying tank cars with far more dangerous materials. Additionally she stated that failure of the trestle would pollute SLO’s water supply. I did not know that SLO got water from Stenner Creek.

Pipeline as in Keystone Pipeline…….Of course Buffett would rather transport oil by train…

When President Obama announced he was killing the Keystone XL pipeline, he said he was agreeing with the State Department’s assessment that the pipeline from Canada “would not serve the national interests of the United States.” The fact is that it would not have benefited the personal financial interests of friend and economic mentor, Warren Buffett, who can rest assured that oil from Canada and the nearby Bakken formation in North Dakota will continue to be transported by a railroad he owns.

Read more:

Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

I’m wondering what a reporting of homeless people eating pizza has to do with anything connected to this article; is it some sort of crime for people to eat when attending a protest rally?

It is a report. The report is that people were bussed in to protest. The homeless holding signs were also holding pizza. It creates the visual. Something can be inferred in you decide the homeless, who have not historically held signs for anything-even to their own benefit, were holding signs and eating slices of pizza.

To simply say 500 protesters and nothing else would imply the 500 protesters were local taxpayers, wouldn’t it? I find those added details of people bussed in from out of the area and homeless persons possibly bribed with pizza and who know’s what else very…..interesting….

Left wing, tree hugging nuts

I don’t know how many protested the new rail proposal but ONE lady interviewed on TV made a comment that rang loudest to me, “if the oil is not on trains it will be moved by trucks.” A few hundred train tankers moved weekly would likely equate to ten times that by truck. Given that reality, the trains are much more eco friendly so long as the integrity of the rails are 3rd party certified. So your cleanup choices are simple, will it be dog or horse.

Thank you. Please see my comment above. This has nothing to do with this particular project. I forgot to mention Heidi Harmon’s comment that the plant was already served by a pipeline to Rodeo, California. That the pipeline is OUT, not IN. This woman is incapable of logical thinking. I will support the full enforcement of any and all government regulations to protect safety and the environment. These people have sold it as such but when questioned have to admit “yeah, that’s not what it is really about”. I currently live 200′ from the railroad tracks and have never lived more than half a mile from them. I like trains, they’re green and efficient. As a liberal I like that. How did liberals go from supporting to opposing rail? That’s the Republican diesel drinking, freeway clogging, country music listening, 10-4 good buddy truckers’ job!

The options of how to transport this oil is NOT the issue before this commission. So the argument that trucks are an option or even a pipe is moot and irrelevant as is the 3rd party certification of the trains.

The issue before this commission is to determine if the oil train spur poses any threat to the safety, health and well being of this community. And the staff put in charge of collecting facts, data, records, documentation and information on that issue recommended the commission deny the project because of 11 unavoidable hazards that would insure that irreparable and irreversible harm was inevitable if the project was to proceed.

How to safety transport hazardous, toxic, volatile, chemicals from point A to point B is another subject for another day and another commission.

Professional protestors and members of the local homeless community.

This sounds like the March on wall street protests all over again.

Hopefully they will set up tents at the courthouse again.

Unemployment is supposedly under 5%, yet no one seems to have to report to their job on a Thursday.

Yet, I wonder how many protesters drove (oil) to the event. Or used their cell phone or other electronic device (oil) Or wore shoes or any other synthetic (oil) clothing. Perhaps the the

ink used on the signs and posters is oil based.

People, you cannot have it both ways.

Your comment is silly. None of what’s going to Nipomo has anything to do with cell phones, shoes or clothing. Maybe they walked. Maybe they rode bikes. Maybe they all have priuses or leafs. The out of towners came by bus, which uses lots less fuel per passenger mile than your SUV with just you in it. So, other than taking the opportunity to post a narrow minded put-down, what exactly is your point?

Actually my comment is very relative. Seems everyone has an insatiable appetite for all things made from oil, but they are willing to drill for it, pipe it, truck it, tanker it or train it.

Like I said, you can’t have it both ways.


Shhh you confuse the simpletons.

Perhaps you didn’t know that anything oil can do Hemp can do better, cheaper and safer. But maybe you don’t want to know and would rather remain uninformed and clueless. I guess that is your choice and you live with the consequences. And there are plenty of people just like you that could tell you a thing or two about the consequences. Good luck with that.

I’ll bet none of those 500 use ANY oil products, NONE

Amazing how many people drink “the Kool Aid”, more damage done by our local drivers than by trains. Atlas is Shrugging.

1 2 3