Starting September 1, residents of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach are encouraged to attend a series of City Council meetings about the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project, otherwise known as the “oil trains.” Meetings are scheduled for September 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pismo Beach City Hall, on September 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grover Beach City Hall and on September 22 at 6:00 p.m. at the Arroyo Grande City Hall.
The September 1 meeting will mainly consist of a presentation by the Mesa Refinery Watch Group. The September 21 and September 22 meetings will include discussions on the Phillips 66 plan.
The Mesa Refinery presentation was originally scheduled to take place on May 5, 2015, but was cancelled when representatives from Phillips 66 failed to show up for the meeting. Without officials from Phillips 66 present, the planned “pro and con” discussion was not possible. Though Phillips officials have continuously declined to reschedule, council members from Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach have decided to proceed without them. Andrew Christie, Chapter Director of the local Sierra Club, credits pressure from concerned citizens for the Councils’ decision to move forward.
At least thirty cities, counties and school districts along the Union Pacific main line have gone on record as being against the oil trains project. Those cities, counties and school districts are now turning to the SLO County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to deny this project and protect local air quality, watersheds, wildlife habitat and the safety of their citizens.
So far only one city within SLO County—San Luis Obispo—has officially voted against the proposed plan to transport 2.5 million gallons of highly toxic and explosive heavy crude oil from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota to the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery at the rate of five to seven trains per week. Despite recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board for oil trains to stay as far as possible away from urban population centers, the Phillips 66 route runs through several densely populated California cities.
Concerned citizens should send their opinions about the proposed Phillips 66 project to the SLO County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and their local City Council. For more information about who to contact, visit https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=NAT_Oil_CBR_Phillips66SantaMariaCityCouncil_Share
Attend the September meetings to voice your concerns in person. Take action, and let officials know where SLO County citizens stand on the topic of oil trains rolling through major California cities.