Letters to the Editor

A slippery situation

The informative article “New study on Phillips 66 refinery’s proposed rail line gauges risk of oil spills” (Oct. 12) leaves out one important point.

The recent upgrading of many of California’s refineries in the past few years is a response to the explosion of new oil coming out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale and Alberta’s tar sands deposits.

Phillips stated its intention to process Bakken oil, which contains volatile gases and tends to explode when oil trains derail. But when the first draft drew 800 angry comments, it announced it wouldn’t take Bakken crude after all.

If Phillips keeps its promise and doesn’t take Bakken oil, then its only other logical choice is tar sands bitumen, which contains sulfur and caustic components and generates almost twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil in its production life cycle.

The communities along the rail route from Davis to Nipomo, including the city of San Luis Obispo, have basically the same choice to make as those Nebraska farmers looking at the possibility of a Keystone XL pipeline running across their farmland, through their communities, and over their surface and groundwater sources.