It is noteworthy that every argument against the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project recited by the Shredder is accurate, and every argument summoned in support is bogus. (“I’ve got the power!” July 2.) Let us count the ways:
No, the 17 California cities and counties and 12 school districts (so far) that are opposed to this project don’t fit the profile of “Birkenstock-wearing, granola-eating concerned citizens and environmental groups.”
No, industrial civilization will not collapse if SLO County refuses to “share the danger” and lay down for a project that will decimate our air quality, sicken our children, put watersheds at extreme risk, and enroll everyone within half a mile of the Union Pacific tracks in a game of fireball Russian roulette five times a week. Denial of the project would mean Phillips 66 will fail to realize its dream of hundreds of millions of dollars in extra profits from importing cheap, dirty Canadian tar sands crude.
No, oil spills into rivers, creeks, and wetlands don’t take “months to clean up.” They can never be completely cleaned up.
No, denial of the project wouldn’t mean you might not be able to put fuel in your car. Unless your car is in China and runs on propane.
No, denial of the project doesn’t mean we will not be able to turn our lights on or keep our beer cold. We live in the Western United States, where the percentage of electricity generated from oil is close to zero.
No, the SLO County Board of Supervisors can’t “wield their power … to demand that all possible safety precautions be used.” Such demands could be preempted by federal authority over interstate commerce. And the new federal safety rules are A) woefully inadequate and B) won’t fully kick in for about 10 years.
Yes, we should wield “our own power to demand new, renewable, environmentally safe energy sources.” Buying into the project of blasting oil out of rocks and squeezing it out of sand is exactly how not to get there from here.
-- Andrew Christie - Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club, San Luis Obispo