SLO County Planning Commission denies Phillips 66 rail spur project

October 5, 2016

Many onlookers stood up and clapped as the vote was taken.

After more than eight months of hearings, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to deny the controversial Phillips 66 rail spur project. Commissioners Don Campbell and Jim Harrison dissented.

Phillips 66 was seeking approval to build a rail spur so that crude oil currently delivered by pipeline could be transported to the Nipomo Mesa refinery by train. Hearings on the rail spur project began in early February. The planning commission has spent the majority of the meetings listening to public comment, which has largely been in opposition to the project.

Commissioners Jim Irving, Eric Meyer and Ken Topping voted against the proposed rail spur project noting safety concerns and the wide spread opposition to the project.

Commissioner Harrison said he thought oil transported by rail was preferable to oil transported by trucks. Both commissioners Harrison and Campbell noted that there are already trains transporting oil through the county, and that the Phillips 66 project would have a minor impact on the number of trains traversing the county.

Phillips 66 officials said oil production is decreasing in California, and the rail spur would allow the company to bring in crude oil from new suppliers. Company officials said, if the county rejects the rail spur, Phillips 66 will deliver the additional oil by truck.

Nevertheless, the rail spur project is expected to be appealed to the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

If Phillips 66 files an appeal, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project, most likely in early 2017.



  1. circlingthedrain says:

    What is Phillips 66 waiting for? Appeal! There are pockets waiting to be lined in this town.

    (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
  2. Ted Slanders says:

    Not to be hypocritical, and to error on the side of caution, and if “safety concerns” is the true issue, then the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors should be brought back into session to create an additional ruling to stop ALL equally dangerous load shipments by either rail or truck though San Luis Obispo county. I am sure the Board of supervisors do not want to be known as blatant hypocrites! 2+2=4.

    Once again, these very dangerous loads travel through San Luis Obispo County by train and truck, to wit: 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.

    If safety is truly a concern with the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, then in the same vein as the worry over an alleged train derailment, and since the oil will now be shipped by oil tanker trucks through SLO county, then a runaway truck ramp should be installed at the bottom of the Cuesta Grade, period!

    For additional safety, the speed limit for oil trains is 40mph through urban areas, then the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors should enact a law that all oil tanker trucks, along with the aforementioned dangerous shipments listed above, should be at the same speed through SLO county for its safety. This additional safety speed limit will hold up traffic on US 101, but safety should be the number one concern because with more oil tanker trucks through our area increases the accident incident number risk. Who will regulate this for the “safety concerns” of the county? Maybe a Highway Patrol escort at the taxpayers expense?

    Furthermore, since more oil tanker trucks will be traveling through are area since this 3-2 vote, more hazardous material trucks and crews are in order, again at the taxpayers expense.

    If the SLO County Board of Supervisors remove their hypocritical stance as shown above by the initiatives herein, then the local printers of yard signs in the meantime will rejoice because their businesses will be booming!

    Ignorance of the facts and hypocritical emotion of the opponents of the rail spur prevail at the expense of logic and reason.

    (15) 33 Total Votes - 24 up - 9 down
    • circlingthedrain says:

      Ted Slanders???? You just blew me away!!!

      (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
    • MrYan says:

      You can’t hold the Supervisors accountable as hypocrites for things not under their control.

      The Supervisors do not have the authority over the railways, and cannot dictate who has access to them. I am sure the State and Feds keep that authority for themselves, as a small county could adversely affect the commercial interests of the state and nation if allowed such power.

      What they can control is what is built within the county limits. A rail spur would be such an example. It is not passing through the county, it is destine for the county, and what is being build falls completely within the county. Do you see the difference?

      No hypocrisy here. They are excising control over an area where they have the authority to do so. Railing (pun intended) at them for not interfering in intra/inter-State commerce is misplaced. But in doing so allows for one’s daily dose of bitching about the Gov’t, so let’s have at it!!

      Whether or not building a rail spur is a good idea is up for debate. But can we have that debate be about the facts, and not rely on name calling?

      Impugning the motives of the other side with name calling, in this case erroneously, doesn’t make a logical case for your side. It only cheapens the discourse and takes further away from any kind of meaningful discussion.

      (-3) 15 Total Votes - 6 up - 9 down
      • Ted Slanders says:


        First thing, this project was a rail spur “extension” to their existing rail yard to allow more oil tanker cars on their property. They have been using rail oil tank cars for the last sixty years and counting. Mr. Yan, where were you in the last twenty years or so on other dangerous railroad shipments through our area by rail? Are you in fact, a hypocrite yourself in this respect?

        YOUR QUOTE: “You can’t hold the Supervisors accountable as hypocrites for things not under their control.”

        If this is true, then the SLO County Supervisors should have thought ahead to the total outcome of their decision of denial if safety was the first concern! If they can’t create a truck runaway ramp at the bottom of the Cuesta Grade, or make the one hundred plus oil tanker trucks that will now be operated on a daily basis through our area in reducing their speed limit to 40mph, as the oil trains have to follow for safety, nor if they can’t create additional hazardous safety crews and trucks in our county for said possible oil tanker truck accidents, then they should have done their homework beforehand because they’ve left SLO county in a more unsafe environment than an oil tanker train scenario.

        The issue with trucking oil is that it takes lots and lots of trucks to move millions of gallons of crude since a single truck tank trailer only holds about 9,000 gallons, or 200 barrels, a little under a third of just one oil rail tank car! Trucking oil is the most risky form of transport from an accident standpoint, and now that “your side” has won, we can thank you for hundreds upon hundreds of additional “dangerous oil tanker trucks” upon our highways relative to the safer transport by rail!

        YOUR QUOTE: “They are excising control over an area where they have the authority to do so. Railing (pun intended) at them for not interfering in intra/inter-State commerce is misplaced.”

        In an insidious back door way, the SLO County Supervisors, along with the opponents to this issue, most certainly interfered in inter and intra state commerce by voting 3-2 in not allowing the rail spur extension, thus eliminating the projected oil trains that were destined for the Phillips 66 plant, get it?

        YOUR QUOTE: “Whether or not building a rail spur is a good idea is up for debate. But can we have that debate be about the facts, and not rely on name calling?

        The debate for the “rail spur extension” is not up for a debate anymore because it has been determined by a 3-2 vote for its denial. The debate upon “your side” was obviously made in ignorance of all of the total facts relative to rail oil train shipments, safer tank cars being used at this time, and safer AAR rulings, train verse truck, and other safety conditions that favor oil trains over trucks that should have been understood first and foremost. No, the terms that I use of ignorance, emotion, a herd mentality, and not knowing all of the facts, is apropos to this discussion because they are true to form, period!

        Besides, you proffer a “rail spur” instead of the true notion that “your side” wanted to stop “oil trains” in their entirety, remember? You, along with the SLO County Supervisors, have interacted with interstate commerce by disallowing the rail spur extension, thus eliminating oil trains. Therefore, can we say that you’re hypocritical to your assumed stance upon this issue? Sure we can.

        This image shows that you wanted to stop oil trains, and not the spur extension:

        Albeit, that 99.99 percent of “your side” doesn’t know the difference between a DOT-111 oil rail tank car and a CPC-1232 tank car, let alone the new DOT 117 rail oil tank car design that is almost foolproof, nor which ones Phillips 66 uses in their tank car fleet and that allows more safety than a “plethora” of oil tanker trucks upon US 101 going through SLO county. There are many other entities that “your side” obviously were unaware of throughout this process, and therefore, the term of calling you and your cohorts “ignorant” is correct.

        I suggest that you enlighten yourself upon some of the ACTUAL FACTS pertaining to this issue that I have presented many times in the past year or so, where the latest one resides at the following link:

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  3. SLOBIRD says:

    I would definitely prefer the train vs the semi trucks clogging are highways and suggest to accidents on our limited roads. Reality is they are going to bring in the oil one of two ways. With marijuana likely to pass and after reading about Washington State accident stats since their passage of marijuana, I want it on the trains. People should read about the insurance rate increases for Washington State as it has also escalated!

    (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
    • Jorge Estrada says:

      SLOBIRD your are spot on! The reality is that we are voting for the consequences but the selfish nature of we humans can be very shortsighted. Pot Head for Governor will be legal too if this passes and California will become even more generous with your growing tax dollars.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  4. Pelican1 says:

    The county officials realized that eventually, THEY’D be run out of town on the same rail if they approved it.
    After all, self-preservation is the first law of nature.

    (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
  5. RememberWhen says:

    Phillips 66 will appeal. If the appeal is denied, a lawsuit will certainly follow. Big $$ will win the battle.

    (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
    • TWEEKSBALMER says:

      Let’s hope so I like jobs and cheap energy.

      (9) 27 Total Votes - 18 up - 9 down
    • kayaknut says:

      The winners in that case will be the lawyers,both sides, and the losers, no matter the outcome, will be the taxpayers. Why should the county supervisors worry it’s not their money and they can always scare more out of the taxpayers.

      (8) 18 Total Votes - 13 up - 5 down
  6. San Louie says:

    I would certainly hope that Phillips 66 appeals. While the SLO Board of Supervisors is currently in sad shape it will improve with the coming elections. It no doubt will have the capacity to do a better job than the unsure and highly malleable planning commission.

    (11) 37 Total Votes - 24 up - 13 down

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