Sunday, October 4, 2015     Volume: 30, Issue: 10

Weekly Poll
SLO County’s rural areas are seeing an increase in winery expansions and events. What’s your take on it?

The more tourism dollars we bring in, the merrier!
It ain’t agriculture unless there’s manure and a tractor involved!
The struggle to keep agricultural land economically viable is real, but we have to draw the line somewhere.
You gotta fight, for your right, to paaaaarrrrtttyyyy!

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Quit personal attacks on those who don't agree about oil trains

Martin Akel - Nipomo -

Since he doesn’t have facts, Patrick Sidun, a Phillips 66 employee, is personally attacking those opposed to hauling 520, mile-long oil trains through the county each year.

He called them "a minority of retired wealthy people living in exclusive, expensive homes in a relentless fear campaign against working families’ lives," in a letter to the editor printed on Sept. 24 (“Fact vs. fear in the Phillips 66 debate”). Nonsense. He’s simply appealing to peoples’ lowest instincts to lash out when they dislike someone else’s opinion. Objective people will see through his shameful attempt.

Let’s examine just one distortion—“retired wealthy people.” Two of my Trilogy neighbors left at sunrise for their jobs at strawberry farms. Another’s a dentist. Another advises people on weight loss. Another commutes to Gallo in Fresno. Another’s in biomedicine. Another commutes to Santa Barbara as an ER physician. Another works at a B&B. Another at a water company. Three are realtors. Another investigates fraud. Another writes software. Another advises SLO County on key issues. Another sells window shades. I could go on, but there’s a word limit here. And I’m sorry, but I need to get back to my job helping companies build their businesses.

Oh, and those who ARE retired feed hungry children, help them get clothes for school, raise money for needy families, etc., etc.

Your neighbors are not sitting on their butts trying to take jobs away from other working families. They’re too busy for that. And so are citizens in the 27 California counties and cities also opposed to polluting, volatile oil trains.

Mr. Sidun—quit your personal attacks. State relevant data, if you have any, as to why oil trains make sense for anyone except those making money from the oil industry.

The 'vocal minority' isn't imagining oil-by-rail hazards

Andrew Christie - director, Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club, San Luis Obispo -

If Patrick Sidun (“Fact vs. fear in the Phillips 66 debate,” Sept. 24) thinks “a vocal minority has raised alarm about mostly imagined hazards from transporting oil to the Nipomo refinery via railroad,” he hasn’t been paying attention, nor would it appear that he’s read the project’s Environmental Impact Report. 

For the record, that “vocal minority” includes 17 cities, five counties, 16 school boards and teachers unions, the California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, National Education Association, our state senator, and The Tribune, to name a few. That’s some minority.

From Mr. Sidun’s claim that “community, academic, and professional leaders” have been persuaded to oppose his employer’s proposed project “through fear, not facts,” it seems he doesn’t think much of the logic skills of community, academic, and professional leaders, who evaluated the issues before coming to the conclusion that the hazards of the project are not imaginary and the county should not issue a permit for it.

It is the facts of the Phillips 66 project that argue against it.

Phillips 66 is a good neighbor, and progress is inevitable

Marcus Beal - Pismo Beach -

The Santa Maria Refinery is a small facility located on the mesa that has been a good neighbor for 60 years. They own 1,780 acres of land but only use a very small portion of it.

Refineries intentionally purchase large plots of land to provide a buffer between them and the surrounding community. This adds annual taxation cost but aids them from impacting the surrounding community. This is part of the philosophy of being a good neighbor.

They give back to the community and are a major source of tax revenue for the Central Coast and the state of California. They provide permanent employment for approximately 200 local residents, and during maintenance periods provide employment for an additional 300 temporary employees. These individuals spend their income at the hotels, restaurants, vineyards, and various businesses here on the Central Coast.

The refinery wants to add more railroad tracks to its own property to facilitate delivery of crude oil by rail. This practice is currently being done in other states on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast. It’s been proven that it can be done safely and efficiently.

Phillips 66 buys crude oil from local producers shipped by pipeline and wants to be able to receive it by railcar. Railroad tracks don’t cross the ocean so it’s obvious the crude oil is domestic and not foreign as the opposition implies. The days of the Pony Express are long gone. That whispering sound you hear is called progress.