For Immediate Release, February 18, 2015

Contact:  Valerie Love, (510) 274-9713,
Larry Shinderman (415) 254-6762

San Luis Obispo City to Send Letter of Opposition to Phillips 66 Oil Train Project

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.—The San Luis Obispo City Council authorized city staff Tuesday night to send a letter opposing the Santa Maria Phillips 66 rail spur project, which would bring mile-long oil trains carrying 2.5 million gallons of crude nearly every day through San Luis Obispo. The letter will be sent from Mayor Jan Marx to the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission on behalf of the city, urging it to reject the project.

This vote comes on the heels of Monday’s massive train accident, in which an oil train derailed and caught fire in Fayette County, W.V., destroying a house, forcing the evacuation of two nearby communities, and threatening municipal drinking water supplies.  

“With the latest derailments and catastrophic explosions, it's time to rethink our energy infrastructure,” said Larry Shinderman, local resident of Nipomo, California, who lives next to the Phillips 66 refinery. “The health and safety and the economic vibrancy of San Luis Obipso is more important than pandering to the special interests of the Phillips shareholders.”

“This project is a threat to me and 18,000 of my fellow students at Cal Poly,” said Hailey Baker, student at Cal Poly State University. “The trains would go right by my classrooms and the Cal Poly stadium – it’s irresponsible to approve such a dangerous project.”

With a 40-fold increase in crude-by-rail since 2008, derailments and spills have also been on a steep rise. In 2013 more crude oil was spilled from trains than in the previous four decades combined, and in 2014 there were more oil train accidents than in any other year on record.

In voting to oppose the Santa Maria Phillips 66 rail spur, San Luis Obispo joins cities and counties all along the rail route that have passed resolutions and sent letters against the project, including San Jose, Davis, Berkeley, Oakland, Moorpark, Oxnard, Camarillo, Alameda County, and Ventura County. More than 22,000 people from across California have also voiced opposition to the project.

“We’re seeing massive opposition to this project from citizens all along the rail route — and with good reason,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “No one in their right mind would invite these dangerous bomb trains into their community.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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