Smoke and flames erupt from the scene of a train derailment  near Galena, Ill.

Letters to the Editor in the San Luis Obispo’s daily newspaper, “The Tribune” today (March 9) (plus more below):

By John Anderson
Nipomo March 9, 2015

“The repercussions of the Phillips rail spur decision will reverberate along 2,100 miles of track and affect the millions who live, work and breathe anywhere near a railroad track between San Luis Obispo and the tar sands in Canada.

Sixty years of refinery history bears no relevance to the issue. There has never been an oil train delivering explosive crude to the Santa Maria refinery. If critical thinking and concern for people over profits prevails, there never will be.

True, no crude oil trains have exploded in San Luis Obispo — yet. No crude oil trains had ever exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, until one did and killed 47 people. No trains ever exploded in Casselton, N.D., until one did. No crude oil trains had ever exploded in Timmins, Ontario, or Boomer, W.Va., until this past February.

As your financial adviser warns you, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Our decision-makers can reduce the risk of more disasters by denying the rail spur.

Contrary to corporate propaganda, the refinery and its jobs will still be there. We and our children deserve a life and future without increasing the threat of losing our lives and the desecration of our land.”

By Lindi Doud
Los Osos March 9, 2015

“Leslie Hall’s alarmingly narrow view of the threat to our safety and the environment represented by the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project (“Life is dangerous,” Feb. 27) is shocking. Indeed, the city of San Luis Obispo has “no jurisdiction” and “no control over what rolls on the railroads.”
SLO County has the only vote.

That’s why Mayor Marx has wisely and responsibly joined the cities of San Jose, Moorpark, Oxnard, Ventura and San Leandro, plus the Oakland Unified School District, Pleasant Valley School District, Alameda County Health Department, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District supervisor in asking the SLO County Planning Commission to deny the project.

This is about doubling the number of oil trains that pass through all these communities every week and adding the wild card of Canadian tar sands crude, the dirtiest oil on the planet, as derailments and infernos hit the headlines on a near weekly basis.

They have no jurisdiction and no control either, but those mile-long rolling bombs would be coming through their communities as well as ours. It’s not all about us, and this issue deserves a more thoughtful response than “get over it” and “no one is being forced to live here.”

a commentary:
<<Dear Media Executive:

The roll call of cities, towns and school districts standing up against Phillips 66’s plan to bring their self-proclaimed “crude-by-rail strategy” to San Luis Obispo County & California expands every week.

We urge you to educate yourself on this issue.  We’re not being overly dramatic — this will be a turning point in all of California and rest of our nation.

Attached is the March edition of the Mesa Refinery Watch Group newsletter.  It includes  …

Why San Luis Obispo and other counties would be impotent in protecting themselves if the Phillips project goes forward.  The only way to prevent it all is to stop the Phillips Rail Terminal from ever being built.

 How even more communities are pushing back hard against Phillips – now including San Luis Obispo City, Ventura City and the largest district in Santa Barbara County.

 How our U.S. Dept. of Transportation now guarantees there will be far more crude-by-rail disasters – this year and into the future!

How newly upgraded, “safer” rail tankers are rupturing & exploding weekly.  There is no solution to Phillip’s “crude-by-rail strategy.”

Our group is dedicated to stopping Phillips 66 from bringing crude-by-rail to San Luis Obispo County and California overall.  But not only is this a local story, it’s a fundamental NATIONAL story that impacts virtually everyone. 

And — while there have been many stories about attempts to improve the safety of crude oil tankers that already exist — THERE HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY FEW STORIES ABOUT COMMUNITIES TRYING TO PREVENT THOSE TANKERS FROM INVADING IN THE FIRST PLACE.  That is our story.  We hope you’ll be among the first to tell it.  And – now’s the time to do so — before San Luis Obispo County officials decide whether to allow the Phillips rail terminal to be built.

The Mesa Refinery Watch Group

P.S. For contact with the press, kindly email Laurance Shinderman, Mesa Refinery Watch Group Steering Committee – [email protected].