Public comment on Phillips 66 rail spur drags on

February 26, 2016

train carMore than 100 public speakers addressed the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission Thursday during the agency’s third hearing on the Phillip 66’s proposed rail spur. The planning commission has yet to start deliberating about the project.

Phillips 66 plans to build a rail spur so that crude oil currently delivered by pipeline could be transported to the Nipomo Mesa 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.

The project faces opposition from many county residents, as well as environmental activists from across California.

On Feb. 4, the planning commission held its first hearing on the rail spur proposal. Buses coming from the Nipomo Mesa, Santa Barbara, Los Angles and San Jose brought opponents of the project to the planning commission meeting.

A combined total of about 200 people made public comments during a two-day hearing on Feb. 4 and 5. The majority of the public speakers opposed Phillips 66’s plan.

On Thursday, public comment split fairly evenly for and against the project. Supporters of the project discussed Phillips 66’s strong safety record and the jobs the refinery provides. Opponents stressed the risk of a train derailment and oil spill.

County staff is recommending the planning commission reject the project because a rail spur could result in oil spills and fires, which could impact natural resources and agriculture. The report also says the project would generate toxic air emissions that exceed county thresholds.

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 have also said Phillips 66 would deliver the additional oil, even if the county denies the project. In that case, Phillips 66 plans to add about 100 truck trips per day to a pump station near Santa Maria. Oil is transported by pipeline from the pump station to the Nipomo refinery.

The next planning commission hearing on the rail spur project is scheduled for March 11. Public comment on the project will continue during the meeting, but commissioners are likely to begin deliberations. It is possible that the commission could rule on the project on March 11.

Regardless of how the planning commission rules, the rail spur project is expected to be appealed to the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

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Rail would certainly be the safe route if 3rd party certification were required on our rail infrastructure. I say this because it is already required on other rail applications that move hazardous product. I say just require independent certification per appropriate engineering standards for the entire route, likely the entire railroad infrastructure.

It is difficult to understand how people can be against crude oil being transported by rail when they are surrounded by volatile items around them such as their auto in their garage, and tanker trucks in gas stations. Furthermore, these people don’t seem to mind if the rails can’t be used to transport crude oil, because the Refinery will then transport by tanker trucks. This will put 100 tanker trucks a week on our freeways. Just think how this will affect rush hour and wear and tear on the roads and we have less government subsidies for highways -more pot holes on our major highways through San Luis Obispo. Also tanker trucks on the freeways will be more dangerous for accidents than oil transported on a the rails.

Oil so improves our living standards. I just don’t see the logic of the attempt to remove oil from our lives. Do the oil companies make money? Yes! But oil enriches our lives in so many ways that to do without it would put our civilization back to the 17th Century- which I don’t think any of us really want.


Perhaps the 100 public speakers should propose a more environmentally friendly project that should satisfy all concerned.

Rather than a mile long spur, have all those opposed form a bucket brigade and had carry the oil by hand from point A to point B. No more tank cars, no more potential derailments, no more leaks, firers, or large spills. Think about it…”hands on” monitoring of the entire transport process as well as the environment. EXERCISE…’Oil Aerobics.’

It would be a win…win project for everyone.

Without petroleum products there would be no ambulance responding when you or your love one has that first heart attack or stroke. No helicopter to fly you or your love one to the hospital from the scene of a life threatening accident. You would have to walk to work every day regardless of the weather. Your children would have to walk to school. No more day trips to Santa Barbara or Cambria. Walking over the grade is going to be painful. The police will respond on foot in about 3 hours. Your home or business will be in ashes by the time Cal Fire gets there. We won’t be able to defend ourselves without fuel for our weapons of war (planes, missiles, ships, tanks, jeeps, etc.). No more plane, trains, cars, boats, motorcycles, wave runners or others fun toys. When the nuclear plants go offline they will not restart without fossil fueled electrical plants to supply power to restart. At that point your air conditioner and heater will cease to function. You gas oven will not start because there will be no electricity to generate a spark. No more hot water, television, microwave oven, or internet. Say goodbye to the washer and dryer. It will be really dark when we use up our last supply of candles which are also products of petroleum. In January of 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. In February of 1933 Hitler abolished civil liberties. We must be careful what we wish for, but more importantly careful what we support.


the destructive oil game has caused so much misery and woe upon the world it is truly incalculable.. oil is not the cause of our security & happiness; it is the cause of global war; terrorism;poverty; & destruction. if it was not for oil and the tycoons that own it and our governments; cleaner technologies and ideas would have been released ages ago….i wouldn’t be surprised if you work for an oil company…

oil as kept is IN the dark ages; not taken us out…

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re one of those extremest club members with a “no oil trains/blast zone” sign on your front lawn denoting your membership.

An extremist who consumes petroleum products. An extremist with absolutely no viable replacement for petroleum products in the here and now.

Shame on you.

I think people would be pretty surprised to see what gets transported on the nation’s rails each day.

“County staff is recommending the planning commission reject the project”. No surprise here. The Director of the Planning Department, James Bergman, was anointed leader when the Democrats controlled the Board of Supervisors.

Just wait and see how the sitting Board of Supervisors it going to deal with having sat on their hands for the last two years while a government bureaucrat is always right environmentalist continues to set the county’s land use agenda. Do you think they have even noticed they are in the back seat when it comes to setting policy? Probably not!

Let’s send this accidental politician back to New Jersey! Fire Adam Hill 2016!

Isn’t it like just 3 add’l trains a week? What’s the big deal?

If you don’t like pipelines and trucks this is the only way. Or I suppose we could set up a bucket brigade with the thousands of unemployed illegal migrants we have in this state.

All kidding aside I was happy to see the employees come out a speak. They are the folks that would be hurt if this project is denied.