• Phillips’ Motivation: Phillips claims they are running out of California crude to process, and therefore jobs at their Nipomo refinery are at risk. This is false. Phillips’ corporate executives have stated in writing that they want their entire company to process lower-cost crude oil in order to generate higher profits. That crude would come by rail from out of the country - from Canada.
They call it “taking a classic company in a new direction” ... i.e., it’s their self-proclaimed “crude-by-rail strategy.” The issue is about higher profits by switching to rail delivery, not about protecting jobs.
• Phillips’ Proposal For SLO County: For 60 years their refinery has received crude oil by pipeline ... not one drop by rail. Under their proposal, Phillips for the first time would bring in 20,800 rail tankers per year, fully loaded with Canadian “tar sands” crude. Each year, 260 trains, each a mile long, would travel into the county. Then the same 260 trains would depart (520 trains in total).
Along with the loaded tankers, would come, for the first time, the construction of a rail terminal -- including a “railcar unloading facility”, a pumping station, and a new pipeline to move the crude within the refinery. This would be accompanied by trucks and other vehicles to service the facility.
• The Negative Impacts Of Conducting Business In An Entirely New Way: This represents an entirely new business model for Phillips - it’s a dramatic transformation in the way they operate in SLO County and all of California. This is not a benign “rail spur.” The issue is the new intensity of their operations and what they intend to bring in on those rails. The impacts ...
- Shipments throughout California of highly flammable, diluted “tar sands” (“one of the world’s dirtiest and most environmentally destructive sources of fuel” - U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer).
- Air pollution from diesel exhaust, the refining of tar sands and the resulting petroleum coke dust.
- Noise pollution from blaring whistles and track noise throughout SLO County & California.
- Light pollution from 30-foot tall light towers surrounding the rail yard.
- Statewide visual pollution of mile-long trains laden with graffiti, each hauling 80 oil tankers.
- The potential for derailments and oil spills anywhere in SLO County & California.
- The potential for fires, explosions and toxic smoke anywhere in SLO County & California.
- The potential for severe property damage anywhere in SLO County & California.
- The potential for injuries and deaths anywhere in SLO County & California.
- The potential to damage the reputation of SLO County as a place to live, work and visit.
- And the potential to damage the economic well-being of our homeowners and businesses.
Of special note is that SLO County and California officials will be preempted from protecting their citizens about anything related to the mainline railroad and the contents of the tank cars -- Federal law will not allow our local governments to safeguard us. Local governments would be impotent.
• What SLO County Officials Must Do: Therefore, given all of the above impacts and the issue of “preemption” -- SLO County’s Planning Commissioners and Supervisors must reject Phillips’ “rail spur” plan. If the terminal is not built, the trains will not be targeting California and SLO County.