Letters to the Editor

The oil train that didn’t wreck

An oil train protest was held at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center over a proposal to expand production at the Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa in February.
An oil train protest was held at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center over a proposal to expand production at the Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa in February. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Recently, at the 13th Street level crossing in Paso Robles, I waited while a death-dealing train passed. Seventy-three oil tank cars rumbled slowly by as they have several times a week for years.

The train didn’t derail, didn’t explode, no one was killed, no conflagration consumed downtown Paso Robles, the environment wasn’t destroyed and our cherished lifestyle didn’t perish. The only oil odors evident were the olive variety emanating from the pizza emporium close to the tracks.

The sole problem seemed to be short-lived traffic stoppage. When the semaphores raised after the train’s leisurely passage, I heard a mockingbird’s melody in a nearby leafy green tree. The musical bird’s ancestors probably sang next to the oil train’s tracks years ago.

It appears to me that opposition to the rail extension to the Phillips 66 Nipomo Mesa refinery is based not on reasoned risk assessment, but on opposition to oil use, to major corporations, to profits — and to capitalism itself. Oil train opponents long for an imaginary nirvana where we get all our energy from windmills, free and located somewhere else.

Ed Cobleigh, Paso Robles

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